Farmer Iron

Putting it all Together

The crunch of spring moves north, and chances are you've been ready for weeks!

No joke, planting for Midwest corn is happening somewhere today and that's exciting, although from where I sit in lovely Minnesota we'll not see planters and spring work rolling for at least a few more days. Heck we won't have our home opener for baseball for another week.

I was talking with an industry colleague yesterday and he commented that these days farmers are tooled up to handle any eventuality for the weather and planting season. Surprisingly, in this country, given the number of commercial farmers, I think it's possible that we could plant the entire corn drop - which USDA says will top 92 million acres - in less than three weeks! That is, of course, if we had a dry spring.

And if we have a wet one - we can still move the corn into the ground in a timely fashion. You're geared up to handle any eventuality. Few other businesses have the assets on hand for that kind of rush. Pretty cool really.

We're using so much technology these days that a little while ago I saw a tweet on Twitter (which I also shared) advising farmers that before you roll out you should double-check your software. So add that to your checklist:
Tractor tune-up - check
Planter meter tests - check
Software update - check

And speaking of software, this year more farmers will be using hands-free driving than ever before, which is probably going to give you some healthy thinking time. This will be a good time to evaluate your systems, determine labor levels and think about how best to deploy your assets. Smart businesses know that the best time to trim and retool an operation is when times are good, not when the bottom drops out.

As you spend quality time in the tractor seat think about how you could improve your operation. And if you're over 65 you might want to think about the future of your operation a little more. Transitions are hard, but I've been on some operations lately where well-thought-out plans make everyone happier.

You've got a lot on your mind, but please don't be distracted. And if you're on Twitter you can follow farmer comments from around the country by searching for the hash tag #plant11. It's a lot of fun to see what farmers are doing as planters roll.

You can also follow me on Twitter at

And finally, when the work slows a bit into this summer, and if you're interested in a look at agriculture in other places we've lined up some farm-focused tours for 2011. There are actually three:

  • Join me on a trip to France to see Euro-ag from farm to shipping port. We leave July 28 and return Aug. 5
  • Join Farm Progress Broadcast Director Max Armstrong for a trip Down Under leaving Aug. 11 and returning Aug. 22.
  • Or join Mike Wilson, Executive Editor, Farm Futures for a trip to Brazil Feb. 11 through 22 in 2012. You'll want to plan for this trip soon too.

You can check out all the tours by visiting These will be fun, and informative, trips and you'll get some excellent site seeing along the way too. So plan on joining us.

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