Winter Meetings Yield Important Take-Home Points

Prairie Gleanings

What I learned from the 2011 winter meeting circuit (thus far).

Published on: January 14, 2011
Tis the season for winter meetings.

I hit three meetings/seminars/conferences in one week. Lots of excellent info at each one, but there’s always several tidbits that seem to hang around in your mind, days after the actual meetings are over.

It’s just good common sense stuff. Things that maybe you’ve never thought of before. Or, stuff that’s obvious, yet it’s been a while since you considered it.

For example, at the Farm Futures Summit in St. Louis, Purdue University’s Mike Boehlje said the marketing process starts when you begin locking in inputs, not with forward contracts. How simple, yet insightful. Keeping production costs down should make it easier to turn a profit each year.

At the same meeting, Missouri farmer Kip Cullers said he spends three to four hours a day on marketing. I was shocked. I figured there was no need to worry about the sales price when you’re producing the yields he is. Yet, it makes sense. It’s the one part of the operation that can make or break you. Still, too many folks do it on a whim.

During the same exact panel (it was a top farmers panel), Baylis farmer Jerry Moss revealed he no longer owns a combine. Each harvest, he rents two from Machinery Link. After crunching the numbers, he found this was more cost effective than worrying about the upkeep and depreciation.

The next day, I drove out to Champaign for the Farm Profitability meeting. David Asbridge, president of NPK Fertilizer Advisory Services, revealed his thoughts on rising fertilizer prices. Despite what happened a couple years ago, he does not foresee anhydrous ammonia hitting a $1,200/ton this time around. Apparently the retailers have a new respect for farmers’ ability to say, “Nope, that’s too expensive.”

The Corn and Soybean Classics were filled with a tremendous amount of solid production info, as always. This year, I particularly enjoyed U of I soybean specialist Vince Davis’ presentation.

For about a year now, Davis has been alluding to reducing seeding rates as seed cost increases. This winter, he put a number with that recommendation, based on years worth of data. He says you only need a final stand of 100,000 plants to maximize yield. Anything over that, the yield response is surprisingly flat.

Drop me a line and let me know what fascinating info you picked up this winter.

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