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This year some things more difficult than weed control

I attended most of the winter grower meetings that Riceland held around Arkansas and they reminded me all over how much I like working with farmers — especially when they are in a good mood.

The meetings also made it very apparent to me that weed control is a “walk in the park” compared to the economic decisions farmers have to make right now. The price situation of all commodities is blowing my mind, and I do not even have to deal with them directly.

If I were a farmer, I would not have a clue what to plant, when to book, when to sell, etc.

One of my university counterparts related to me a conversation he recently had with a farmer who called wanting a recommendation for a residual herbicide to be added to glyphosate for a preplant burn-down in cotton.

He recommended one of the residual herbicides labeled for cotton and at the end of the conversation the farmer said, “By the way, I assume it will be ok if I decide to plant soybeans instead?” Of course it would not, so he changed the recommendation to one that could be used for cotton or soybeans.

The farmer said, “That's good and I assume it will be ok if I decide later to plant even rice.”

My man had to change the recommendation again, thankful that he had not caused the farmer to mess up.

There are farmers who still do not know what they are going to plant. If you are one of them, do not box yourself in with a wrong choice of preplant burn-down herbicides.

Farmers and everyone else in agriculture are shaking their heads over record commodity prices that continue to rise. Farmers are also shaking their heads over record input costs.

Everyone seems to be guardedly optimistic that they have a chance to have a really good year and hopefully have a chance to dig out from under some bad ones. However, with the input costs at record levels, the risks involved with planting this year's crop are at record highs as well.

I have said on many occasions, I could not manage the stresses of the unknown involved in farming. I can only imagine what is going on in the minds of a lot of farmers thinking about putting this crop in the ground.

There is no question that record oil prices and other factors involved in the run-up of commodity prices have caused legitimate increases in crop inputs. However, there is obviously some price gouging going on as well. Everybody smells money when the farmer has a chance to make money.

I am sure I do not understand all of the reasons why, but it bothers me greatly that we seem to be totally dependent on foreign suppliers for fertilizer. It should be obvious to our nation's leaders that the one thing we have going for us is agriculture — although it is seldom mentioned. I have yet to hear it mentioned in a campaign speech.

Now we are not only dependent upon foreign oil but foreign fertilizer as well. While we still live in the greatest nation on earth, you sure have to wonder what our folks are thinking at times.

One thing that has every farmer's hackles up right now is the price of glyphosate price. I have been quite amused at some of the industry reasons given. The bottom line on that one is it will take competition to fix the problem. Farmers have long memories and what goes around comes around.

Roundup Ready is the greatest weed control technology ever. However, it currently has no competition. Between the herbicide resistance problems developing because of overusing the technology and an apparent ramp-up of the LibertyLink soybean technology, the current monopoly will not always exist.

It is an exciting time to be in agriculture. The stakes going into this crop are the higher than they have ever been. Here is hoping the rewards will be the highest they have ever been. As I said earlier, weed control is simple compared to economics.

I am here to help any way I can.

My Riceland cell phone number is (870) 674-7297 and my personal cell phone is (501) 681-3413.

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