I love this time of year - well usually I do when spring actually arrives. As I drive through the countryside I can almost feel the tension as each of you steps outside to check the weather (beyond what they tell you on TV). The tension mounts as you ready that last piece of equipment and perhaps give the planter or drill one last walkaround.
Spring is your investment in a fall payday, a time when every second really counts. I remember having a conversation with Ag Economist Howard Doster a few years ago about opportunity cost. When a planter goes down what does it really cost?
You can fine-tune your marketing ahead of planting by getting first-rate from our own Farm Futures analyst team - they'll be conducting a webinar at 7 p.m. Monday, April 7. Sign up for the event and make plans to join them Monday night!
Sure there's a day's lost planting, but how does that figure into fall harvest? So many factors are involved in getting a top corn yield, or best soybean haul. He noted that if the down day is in the middle of a string of nice days the lost time won't be as "expensive" as if it was the last great day before two weeks of rain that keeps you out of the field. Given the size of planters these days, one lost day can be a lot of lost ground and income.
There are plenty of charts, tables and research out there about planting date and yield that you can turn to for a better handle on downtime costs. That's information you'll need to figure lost time costs - and it helps put into perspective the actual cash cost of getting the hard-to-find part shipped in overnight to get back in the field ASAP.
Of course, it's also that time of year when ag writers talk about safety, especially with all that ASAP talk that goes on during planting. You want that top corn yield, but you also want to be around to enjoy marketing it as well.
Busy times are sometimes dangerous times on the farm. We don't know what kind of weather we'll have this spring, so every possible planting moment will be a kind of go-for-broke day where you want to get as much planted as possible. While that's true most years, after the last four years we've had in the upper Midwest, maximizing planting opportunity time is a big deal.
And here's hoping that 2014 brings you a top-level yield and peace of mind of a crop in the bin to market.
Here are a few other links you might want to check out for corn planting information:
7 Corn Planting Tips - from Corn+Soybean Digest a sister publication.
Maximizing Corn Yield Potential - this is a free report you can download that includes a wide range of content and information you can put to use. It was developed by Farm Progress editors.