South East Farm Press Logo

How you manage farming uncertainty will be even more critical in an incredibly challenging 2024 crop year.

John Hart, Associate Editor

February 29, 2024

3 Min Read
farmer staring at field

Of all the skills needed to successfully farm today, the most important may well be managing uncertainty. And this ability will be even more critical in an incredibly challenging 2024 crop year. 

Corn, cotton, and soybean prices are expected to remain low while production expenses will stay high. There is a glimmer of hope for peanuts with Auburn University Extension economists Wendiam Sawadgo and Adam Rabinowtiz forecasting peanut prices to remain elevated and set a 10-year high for the second consecutive year. The challenge is peanut production expenses will be high as well. 

USDA forecasts 2024 net farm income at $116.1 billion, a drop of $39.8 billion or 25% compared to 2023 net farm income. Making ends meet will be exceedingly challenging in 2024; the good news is, farmers are up to the task. They do this successfully every year. 

Fortunately, farmers have tools in this digital age that help them survive uncertainty. North Carolina State University has developed online tools to help farmers manage thrips in cotton and determine the best corn planting date. On April 1, N.C. State is expected to release an online grower decision support tool on the Extension soybean portal to help North Carolina soybean farmers determine their ideal planting date and the best maturity groups and seeding rates for that planting date. 

The Corn Climate dashboard helps North Carolina farmers determine their best corn planting dates. The dashboard provides climate-based information on seasonal corn development. The tool utilizes multiple climate and weather datasets to calculate daily heat units (growing degree days) and then aggregates these over the season to predict when different developmental stages will occur. 

Managing thrips in cotton will be important in 2024, and the thrips infestation predictor tool to on the N.C. State cotton Extension portal allows farmers to put in their planting date for a given location, click on the map and select that location, and the tool will spit out a prediction for thrips risk. The tool shows thrips dispersal timing and weather patterns, and helps farmers determine if they are in a high, medium, or low risk window for thrips. 

Farmers can turn to these online tools to help them manage uncertainty. One thing is certain, though, pests such as thrips or palmer amaranth won’t get together and say, “you know, these farmers are going to have a very tough year ahead. Let’s take the year off and give them a break so they don’t have to worry about us.” 

That will never happen, but it would make for an interesting science fiction movie. 

But the best movies are the ones where a hero overcomes a great obstacle and achieves a victory in the end. Let’s hope our hero farmers overcome all the challenges this crop year will bring and achieve record yields and strong profits.    

About the Author(s)

John Hart

Associate Editor, Southeast Farm Press

John Hart is associate editor of Southeast Farm Press, responsible for coverage in the Carolinas and Virginia. He is based in Raleigh, N.C.

Prior to joining Southeast Farm Press, John was director of news services for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. He also has experience as an energy journalist. For nine years, John was the owner, editor and publisher of The Rice World, a monthly publication serving the U.S. rice industry.  John also worked in public relations for the USA Rice Council in Houston, Texas and the Cotton Board in Memphis, Tenn. He also has experience as a farm and general assignments reporter for the Monroe, La. News-Star.

John is a native of Lake Charles, La. and is a  graduate of the LSU School of Journalism in Baton Rouge.  At LSU, he served on the staff of The Daily Reveille.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like