Grain rally sparks rise in input prices

TAGS: Management
standret/iStock/Getty Images tractor planting in tilled field
We’re fine-tuning 2021 fertility, herbicide plans, looking for retailers who can hold the line on pricing.

A bullish market report this week has led to a continuation of the run in the markets. Alongside with that rally, supply prices have begun to rise just as fast or faster.

As I’ve continued to work through fertility and herbicide plans, price changes have thrown solid plans into the recycle bin more than once. Some local suppliers have gained business, others have lost business. It all has depended on what kind of position they had on products in the supply line, and whether or not they could hold the line on pricing.

So, what can take so long to make these plans? Well, while I’m working the process, I examine soil test reports. The big pieces of the puzzle are easy: Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potassium. It’s prioritizing the micro nutrients and coming up with a plan that is beneficial to the most acres that is difficult.

Though it would be great to do each field as a complete stand alone, it isn’t practical. When it’s time to get in the fields, multiple fields and acres must be covered in order to be efficient from a time perspective.

Look first at major issues

First, I look for major issues that must be taken care of. Those go on one list and will be addressed on an individual basis. Beyond that, I look to group fields that need the same nutrients.

Sometimes I choose to focus on a particular nutrient. For example last fall, I focused on Copper, this spring I’m considering Zinc or Manganese as the primary focus. Fixing soil balance won’t be done in one trip across the field; it probably won’t be done in a year or two. It is a multi-year process.

I want to take full advantage of each trip. When I’ve got a dual product machine going across the field, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to address an additional fertility issue. Running a machine across the field has an expense ($5-7 for a custom applicator).

The chemistry piece, I have discussed before. Labels, labels, labels, as much as I read, you would think I’m a historian or lawyer! We know that layering chemistry and stacking different modes of action is the key to successful program. Again cost comes into play. I’m trying to build a successful, yet cost effective program. I want a solid base program, then I focus on shoring up shortcomings from previous years, which left extra seeds in the soil that will need dealt with. I check and double check the efficacy charts to make sure the weed I’m going after is covered by more than one product in the mix.

Once again we are heavy in the non-GMO grains, so it just adds to the urgency of getting it right the first time.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
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