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Wrapping up 2018 with our list of the best, and worst farm happenings

Despite a long, painful harvest, soybean yields gave some reasons to be upbeat.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

I can’t remember any year then we went out to the fields on December 26th. Working ground and spreading litter happened Wednesday and into Thursday. Dad had said several times when it’s a tough fall, there is usually a nice spell sometime in the winter. If the rain passes by this week, that may hold true for 2018.

Speaking of which, it’s time for the annual best/worst things that happened on the farm this year.

We’ll start with the bad:

Many faced a difficult, drug-out end to harvest. I talked to the service tech early last week. He told me many guys were still finishing up, not just the usual stragglers. We even had a neighbor cutting beans on Christmas Eve.

Commodity prices. No reason to go in depth here. Fortunately, the second half of the trade war payment was released last week. We all know that corn and soybeans generally move together. I still don’t understand how the USDA decided the soybean payment should be $1.86 and corn only $0.01.

Here are some of the good:

Fuel prices have softened. Despite the OPEC agreement last month to reduce output, prices are now at a 15-month low. I suspect the experts will tell us it has something to do with the mild temperatures so far this winter. We ordered a tanker to be delivered this week.

Locally, soybean yields were pretty good this year. Corn yields were solid, but most guys are saying they were off pace compared to last year. Growers are optimistic for 2019.

Some split decisions looking forward:

Input prices.  Fertilizer prices (specifically nitrogen) were pretty good last year. Looking toward next year prices could be 20-30% higher. It seems that seed prices continue to creep up as well. The market projectors seem to think that a low corn acre year last year will lead to a bigger acre year in 2019. For us it comes down to the numbers. We will soon push through the calculations to see which crops have the most profit potential in the coming year.

Land rents are still lingering on the high side. Some landowners have been willing to work with the current farm economy, while others are reluctant. We let some land go last year; if negotiation isn’t on the table this year, it might be time to let some more go. The decision becomes a balancing act between keeping equipment cost per acre in line and profit potential on rented acres.

Have a great new year!

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

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