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Finalizing crop protection and fertilizer plans

The hardest decision has been on corn chemisty and whether or not to purchase with ‘service’.

This week has been all about finalizing tentative plans. We have been slow to secure chemistry and determine fertilizer plans this year. Yes, I said tentative plans because on our farm, nothing is set in stone until the application has been made and the seed is in the ground.

With sluggish markets, the everlasting winter-like weather, and a plethora of other (more immediate) things going on, these input decisions just kept getting put off. (We did secure our seed early and have a ‘tentative’ idea on acre splits.)

At the end of last week, I determined our crop protection programs for 2019. I then requested the vendors re-quote the products. Surprisingly, there were few changes. Most costs only moved pennies, if at all. One more time through the list and I will send off the orders.

The hardest decision has been on corn chemistry and whether or not to purchase with ‘service’. In the past, often I would choose without ‘service’. Then if needed I would use the cost savings to do any re-sprays that were necessary. That is still the case on soybeans as I use a lot of generics and many retailers don’t get excited about selling generics. However, on corn, we’re using the top shelf name brand products. The ‘service’ is costing less than $2 per acre, and I can’t warranty much of anything for that!

On the fertilizer side, we are hoping to strip every acre of our corn crop. We feel it is important to get nutrients directly under the plant where the roots will grow through them. However, we will also continue to correct glaring fertility issues with prescription-based broadcast applications. We have determined our mix and pushed the pencil on which vendor can give us the best package. We will continue to broadcast our soybean fertilizer and that will be done based on maps derived from soil tests.

Cheaper nitrogen

A pleasant surprise has been softening nitrogen prices. It’s not very often that this happens. Usually once a retailer has set the pre-purchase price, it doesn’t go down.

I think this year has been an exception because suppliers were hoping to see big acres swing back toward corn; however, as the markets and weather have not cooperated, they are starting to get concerned. Also, energy costs to produce the products has been low this winter.

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

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