The big story as farmers prepare for 2022 planting is rising input costs and supply chain issues that will bring challenges no matter what crops a farmer grows.
At this year’s North Carolina Commodities Conference in Durham Jan. 13, Derek Washburn, North Carolina State University Farm School associate; Wes Everman, North Carolina State University Extension weed specialist; and Luke Gatiboni, North Carolina State University Extension soil fertility specialist, offered pointers on how to manage rising input costs in 2022.
Washburn highlighted the new Crop Comparison tool released by North Carolina State’s agricultural resource and economics team as a vital resource for farmers to evaluate inputs and determine what crops to grow. The Excel spreadsheet can be used by farmers to enter the percentage increase in variable input costs and the tool will use that information to calculate profitability for each crop.
To access the Crop Comparison tool click here.
Washburn, Gatiboni and Everman all emphasized that managing costs will be particularly vital in 2022.Washburn noted that commodity prices are expected to remain high in 2020, but there is no guarantee they will remain strong throughout the year. He said that based on historic data, the best strategy for farmers is taking a forward contract at planting which is a good way to lock in the highest price for crops.
Due to high fertilizer prices in 2022, Gatiboni stressed that this is the year for farmers to fine-tune their fertility programs. He urges farmers not to skimp on nitrogen and potash this year, but he did note that it is common for state soils to have high phosphorous levels so many farmers can use that bank of phosphorous already stored in the soil However, Gatiboni said that is not the case for nitrogen and potash.
“For nitrogen, we don’t have any residual effect. Everything you applied the last season is gone. For phosphorous, yes, this is the year you can save some dollars on phosphorous. When you apply phosphorous, everything the plant is not using is accumulating in the soil over the years. If you are doing good fertility management, there is a lot of phosphorous in your soils,” Gatiboni said.
He noted that if your soil index is higher than 50, you don’t need to apply any phosphorous for row crops this year.
However, he emphasized that potash will need to be applied this season. He urged farmers to target potash in their soil fertility program this year, but not phosphorous. He explained that last year’s generally high yielding crops used quite a bit of potash that will need to be replenished.
Finally, Gatiboni said that poultry litter, if available, is a good fertility option that is cost effective for many farmers.
When it comes to weed management, 2022 is expected to be a challenging year with glyphosate prices approaching $80 per gallon and concern about availability. Everman emphasized that getting weeds early will be all the more important this year.
“If we can get glyphosate, most farmers will use that as their base. They can switch to paraquat or glufosinate, but they will still probably be expensive, depending on local supplies and what you can get your hands on,” he said.
“No matter what we switch to, whether it’s using more auxins or using more PPO inhibitors as a burndown for our broadleaf weeds, we need to be going out early and looking at residuals in that system. There are a lot of residuals that work well that should be cheaper which will help hold us towards planting.”
Everman said it is important to consider what weeds you have and what cropping system you have as you plan for weed control in 2022. He said one possible way to save money on weed control is to turn to the old practice of tilling multiple times before you plant.
“I’m not saying diesel is going to be cheap either, but this is something you can factor in, especially on some of your early emerging weeds.
“Shifting our planting date can change the weed spectrum as well. If we plant a little bit earlier, those later emerging weeds we have in the summer, will be emerging when the crop is already growing and maybe we have a canopy that makes it more competitive,” he said.