Practices

Practices


14 June 2022

by Brad Roberts

The strength of Farmers Business Network® is the opportunity to share information, insight, and feedback between you and your fellow farmers. Stay Up to Date This Planting Season We are currently polling members to track Canadian progress for cereal, canola, and soy during this year’s planting season. And luckily, you’ll be able to track those results right here on this page. Locking in on the correct data is important for all of us. Week Ending June 14, 2022 Here's this week's planting progress for 206 farms over 0.66 million acres. Week Ending June 2, 2022 Here's this week's planting progress for 223 farms over 0.76 million acres. Week Ending May 26, 2022 Here's this week's planting progress for 533 farms over 2.59 million acres. Week Ending May 16, 2022 Here's this week's planting progress for 521 farms over 2.34 million acres.


13 June 2022

by Brad Roberts

The strength of Farmers Business Network® is the opportunity to share information, insight, and feedback between you and your fellow farmers. Stay Up to Date This Planting Season We are currently polling members to track U.S. progress for corn and soybeans during this year’s planting season. And luckily, you’ll be able to track those results right here on this page. Locking in on the correct data is important for all of us. Week Ending June 13, 2022 Here are the results of this week's planting progress for 2,774 farms over 6.3 million acres. Week Ending June 7, 2022 Here are the results of this week's planting progress for 2,346 farms over 5.8 million acres. Week Ending June 3, 2022 Here are the results of this week's planting progress for 2,975 farms over 7.1 million acres. Week Ending May 31, 2022 Here are the results of this week's planting progress for 2,069 farms over 5.0 million acres. Week Ending May 25, 2022 Here are the results of this week's planting progress for 2,883 farms over 6.9 million acres. Week Ending May 20, 2022 Here are the results of this week's planting progress for 2,114 farms over 6.3 million acres. Week Ending May 17, 2022 Here are the results of this week's planting progress for 2,180 farms over 5.2 million acres. Week Ending May 11, 2022 Here's this week's planting progress for over 2,075 farms over 5.9 million acres. Week Ending May 2, 2022 Here are the results of this week's planting progress for 1,490 farms over 3.1 million acres. Week Ending April 28, 2022 Here's this week's planting progress for over 2,044 farms over 4.7 million acres. Week Ending April 22, 2022 This week we're tracking planting progress. Check out the data.


04 May 2022

by Rejeana Gvillo

With planting progress for the US lagging the average for a handful of crops, lots of questions about prevent plant and the risk around those totals are surfacing. Already the world is facing supply uncertainty, and the threat of losing additional ground for corn production specifically heightens concerns. To answer whether we should be concerned about prevent plant now, we looked at historical levels of planting progress and the relationship to prevent plant totals, then zoomed in on North Dakota (ND) as risks there are mounting.   Digging into the data We gathered data from two key sources to answer the question: is it too early to be concerned about prevent plant?   Weekly Crop Progress reports - these are issued by USDA on Mondays (as of the prior Sunday) during the key weeks of the growing season for the US - usually April-October or so, depending on the year. FSA crop acreage data - these data sets are released monthly, usually from August - January.  The data included progressive totals of prevent plant, failed, planted, and volunteer acres with the final report usually released in January. Crop progress to date vs history - Focus on US corn As of April 24, the US corn crop was 7% planted versus the average of 15%.  Going back to 1980 and looking at the same week across time, here are some stats. Bolded years are record-yielding years, green years represent record-production years. So, at the national level, the current planting pace to date is not worrisome. We have had several years of progress that have run behind this year’s to date pace that ended up being records (2009, 2013, 2014).  Historical vs April 24 US corn planting progress stats Back to 1980 Minimum progress 2% (1984, 1983) Maximum progress 50% (2010) Median progress 9% (including 2011, 2015) Average progress 11%  (2007) Years below 7% 14 (including 2008, , 2013, , 2018, 2019) Years above 7% 24 Years at 7% 5 (1981, 1995, 1997, 2020, 2022) Does North Dakota pose risks? At a national level this year’s corn planting pace to date does not seem too threatening. But we decided to specifically zoom in on North Dakota. We did that for a couple of reasons. First, ND has led the US in prevent plant acres of major crops in five of the last 15 years making it highly prone to planting challenges.  And this year’s planting season has not started out well as record cold temperatures for this time of year, combined with several big snow events, have kept farmers on the sidelines. While this time of year is generally not the height of planting in ND, the weather in April along with the forecast through the first week in May suggest ND could face an uphill challenge getting the corn crop in the ground over the next 30 days. Precip concerns Over the 2nd half of April, corn growing regions in North Dakota got nearly 4 inches of moisture from several feet of snow fall. That is the highest two-week total for this time of year with the next highest being 1986 at 3 inches and 0.8 inches on average. Unfortunately for producers, there is ample moisture in the near-term forecast as well which stretches into the first week of May as of this writing.  Temp concerns On top of all the moisture, temperatures have been record low for this time of year. The average daytime high for the 2nd half of April is projected to be a brisk 41 degrees, a full 17 degrees below average at this time of the season. The most recent year that was close was 2013, when the last half of April temperatures were 44 degrees. That was a year when North Dakota had significant corn prevent plant, with 13% of the state’s corn acreage not planted. Here again, weather models are forecasting continued cold to persist into the first week of May.  We still have time Still focusing on ND, we looked at the day of the year (DOY) that ND historically has 10% of the crop planted, 20% planted, 30% etc. We then tested those interpolated values with prevent plant totals for each year.  The DOY we need to keep an eye on is around 145 or May 25. If the state has 60% or less of intended corn in the ground by then, the risk of having prevent plant acres increases significantly.  Essentially, in the coming 28 days, ND corn planting progress needs to be at that threshold or more to alleviate concerns about not getting the whole corn crop in the ground. What it means for the farmer The world is already on edge about price risk in the grain and oilseed complex. US farmers surprised the market in March with lower than expected corn intentions for the coming growing season. Any hint of further cuts in acreage due to Mother Nature’s fickle ways could add more fuel to the price outlook. While still time to see a change in weather to have beneficial impacts in planting pace, it will require a significant warm and dry trend in the Upper Midwest to give farmers a shot ahead of the late May deadline. 


11 Feb 2022

by Darryl Paulhus

Being a transplanted Canadian, I have been living and working in Australia for the past 16 years, mostly in the agriculture field. I am originally from a small farm in central northern Saskatchewan. Pulse crops played a large part in rotations, mainly field peas starting in the mid-80’s. With 1980’s technology this was a struggle due to lodging, disease and the short growing season. An Australian Canadian perspective on pulse crops My area had approximately 93 frost free days. This makes for a very compact growing season. So harvesting pulse crops was very challenging and they soon lost favour amongst growers and Canola started to become the main crop other than wheat and barley. Canada has gone on to become the world's largest exporter of Canola.  Field peas made a resurgence in the mid-90’s as better varieties became available that resisted lodging and disease. Most of the field peas were/are grown in the northern and Eastern Saskatchewan grain belt that has poorer soils than central Saskatchewan but has better rainfall. Central Saskatchewan was always the hotbed of pulse growing, especially lentils, chickpeas and dry beans. Most of this lentil production is exported to India and Turkey. Chickpeas and dry beans’ main market is the USA. Central and southern Saskatchewan were ideal to grow lentils and chickpeas and durum wheat as they have quite hot summers with lower rainfall in most of central Saskatchewan which has an average rainfall of 200mm per year. Southern Saskatchewan this total is even lower at 120 to 150mm per year. Snow does help this somewhat but with 300mm snow equalling 25mm rain it is not the answer to their moisture needs (dry beans include black, navy, faba, pinto). Lupins are a very new crop in western Canada with trials just starting in 2019/2020 to see the agronomic benefit of this crop into the western Canadian feed market. They have a ways to go to prove any benefits over the traditional barley or corn rations. Eastern Canada, mainly Ontario, grows lots of corn and soybeans as their climate is better adapted to these crops than western Canada. Wheat is also a large crop in Ontario along with dry bean pulse production. Ontario has not been as affected by the extreme dry conditions experienced in western Canada in 2021. We’ll focus on western Canada as that is the area that has the most relevance to what we grow in Australia.  The 2021 crop in western Canada was one of the worst on record with many of my mates recording the lowest yields they have ever seen since the 1930’s. Yields were in the 100 to 200kg per ha over large areas. Fortunately, they have a well established crop insurance program that has helped them remain viable. Normally, these kinds of drought conditions come in two or three year lengths, the last one being in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Their outlook for the 2022 growing season looks to be dry as many paddocks were harvested extremely low to the ground which has made any capture of moisture extremely limited. The confidence of a good season in 2022 among all the people I talk to in Sask. and Alberta is not optimistic of a good year. Below average year is their expectations.  They have the lowest carryover of crop in near history. This bodes very well for us here in Australia as we are all aware that the grain markets price the Australian crop after the North American harvest is underway. Even with the expected increase in pulse crop seeding hectares in Australia due to high fertiliser prices, the pricing should stay very firm in 2022. As always many factors play into this scenario. In pulse crops, plant stand is very important as most pulse crops do not compete well with weeds. Seeding rate plays a huge part in this; a typical seeding rate for lentils in Saskatchewan Is 85 kg/ha. Farmers that I have worked with in Australia have upped their lentil seeding rate to 65/70 kg/ha with very good plant stand numbers and increased yields over the lower seeding rates they were using previously. Most pulses we grow in Australia fit into a similar scenario. It can be very advantageous to try different seeding rates on your farm to see if a different seeding rate can pay benefits in your farming system. In pulse crops, inoculant plays a huge part in the growing of these crops as pulse crops once established can provide not only their own nitrogen but can also provide extra nitrogen to the following crops. Inoculation is the process whereby bacteria are coated onto the seed; this bacteria then infects the roots to create the symbiotic relationship with roots to allow nitrogen from the air to be absorbed by the plant to not only be used for growth but also to supply an excess that is left in the soil for the following crop.  All pulse crops should be inoculated with the correct strain of bacteria to help the plant produce this excess nitrogen and maximise the benefits of the pulse crop. Most soil contains small amounts of the correct strain of bacteria for nitrogen production but inoculation ensures that there will be enough to infect the roots. This is why these crops have become instrumental in our modern farming system rotations. Learn more To find out more about our range of products available to help your farming operation, please visit fbn.com/en-au/direct


With the high price premiums organics offer, you may feel the cost of expensive equipment is justified. But spending too much too soon, especially when you have smaller acreage, is a good way to end up in the red. Organic farmers need to do their due diligence to ensure their equipment purchases are wise investments.  Here are six tips to avoid overspending on farm equipment for your organic operation: Calculate the per-acre cost and ROI for any equipment you want to purchase. That includes not only the price tag, but also the cost to store it, operate it and maintain it. And don’t forget depreciation. If the numbers seem shocking, think about other ways to get the work done on your farm. Most times, it can be done at much less expense than you’d guess.  It’s easy to feel like you need all of the options out there to run a successful organic operation. The truth is, most farmers can be successful with just a rotary hoe and a cultivator. If you’re wondering whether a piece of equipment is a good decision, ask yourself: Does it solve a problem? Or is it merely an expensive way to deal with a problem? Usually, buying an expensive piece of iron or machinery is only a patch to the challenges you face rather than a permanent fix.  At AgriSecure, we always encourage organic farmers to run the numbers when they’re not in a stressful situation. When you’re facing a big problem, it’s easy to make bad decisions out of desperation. Let the math decide whether you’re making a good call, not your emotions. You can get more out of the equipment you have by designing a solid organic crop rotation. A good rotation should help suppress weeds, so you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment like row crop flamers. It can also help balance out fieldwork timing, so you’re not trying to do the same task for every acre at once. Sometimes, it makes more financial sense to outsource work than to buy the equipment and do it yourself. Consider any weaknesses or areas you struggle with that you could hire someone else to handle. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to deciding on equipment. Maybe you’re great at bringing old parts back to life, so buying used equipment would be a wise investment. But if that’s not your strength, maybe you’re better off leasing the machinery and letting the dealer handle any repairs. It’s all about tailoring your purchases in a way that will allow you to become the most cost-efficient organic producer you can be. If you’re trying to decide what equipment you need to succeed in organics, AgriSecure can help. Our experienced team of organic farmers can help you determine what’s a necessity vs. a "nice to have" and whether a purchase makes financial sense for your farm. Contact us today or visit our website agrisecure.com for more info. 


Bought synthetic fertilizer lately? You’re probably feeling sticker shock.  This is true for conventional as well as organic farmers because anyone who uses manure will likely see demand — and therefore prices — go up. And times of high demand are especially risky for organic farmers who don’t have the option of buying synthetic when supply runs low. That’s why if using manure is part of your fertilizer program, you need to have a good game plan on how to source it and ensure you have enough fertility. It’s far more expensive to not have enough manure than to buy extra early, Scott says. He recommends organic farmers stock up on their manure in advance. Try to commit to a purchase as soon as possible — even a year out, if you can. Unlike synthetic fertilizer, the amount of nutrients in raw manure can vary, even within the same pile. That’s why Scott says those working with raw manure need to get a nutrient analysis. Depending on the size of the pile, take 6-12 small scoops from a foot into the pile. Never sample from the surface, Scott says, as it won’t give you an accurate representation of the pile. Mix your scoops in a bucket and then submit one or two samples for analyses. Sending more than one sample can tell you how much variability there is in the pile. Whether you’re brand new to using manure or you’re a veteran organic farmer, it’s always a good idea to work with an expert on your fertility program. Scott recommends finding a good agronomist, noting that it’s personally made a big difference on his own organic farm.  A good agronomist should be able to get at the root of any fertility problems and create a plan to address them. Scott advises giving them 2-3 years to make improvements on your farm. If they don’t pay for themselves within that time, look for a new agronomist. Liquid in-furrow fertilizers are not a new concept in conventional crop production. But liquid organic in-furrow fertilizers may soon be more commonplace on organic farms.  Scott is currently testing a mix of molasses, humates and biologicals as in-furrow liquid fertilizer on his own organic farm. He’s always skeptical of trends, so he makes sure to test new products and ideas before he sells them.  Scott says that farmers are welcome to reach out to him at the end of this season to see how the results of the in-furrow trials went. While CFS’ mission is to empower organic farmers, they also work with conventional farmers who want to use organic fertilizer for its nutrient and soil-building benefits. In addition to selling chicken pellets and raw chicken and raw poultry litter, they offer Purple Cow Organics fertility products, humates, and organic weeding equipment. To learn more about CFS, visit www.cropfertilityservices.com . If organics is something you’re interested in, AgriSecure can help. With a team that has first-hand experience of large-scale organic row crop production, AgriSecure can help you get certified, find the right markets, secure organic fertilizer and make the move to a more profitable future. Contact AgriSecure today for a free consultation.


Investors diversify their portfolios for financial stability. Farmers can do the same by diversifying their crops and the markets they serve. If you’re an organic farmer, you’re already off to a great start. But you can diversify even more — and boost your bottom line — by getting into the organic specialty markets. Organic farmers already see significant profit potential from the high premiums of organic commodities. (Note: organic corn and soybeans have averaged over $9.50 and $20 per bushel, respectively, in the last decade.) With specialty crops like popcorn, clear-hilum soybeans and grains for food companies, the premiums are even higher. You can conservatively expect to sell organic specialty crops for 10% above organic commodities. Breaking into the specialty markets depends on two things: your reputation and your network. We recommend growers get some solid organic production experience before venturing into the specialty markets. Even the best farmers make mistakes in their early years of organic. You don’t want a valuable learning experience to occur on an important contract. On B&B Irlbeck Farms, we were certified organic for 5 years before we got into specialty crops. I’d advise giving it at least 3 years after transitioning to organic.  Once you’ve built up your organic experience and reputation, you can begin to seek out buyers. Don’t be afraid to make some cold calls. Start in your own backyard. That’s how we became the organic grower for a local distillery.  Scored a contract? Congrats! Now it’s time to make sure you deliver.  Naturally, specialty markets pay more because it takes a higher level of management and production. You need to be even more on top of the weeds and fertility. And you need to make sure you’re buying the right organic seed .  But growing the crop isn’t usually the toughest part. The challenge is managing the business relationship and providing them the documents they need. If your buyer calls up asking for information, you should be able to deliver it within 30 seconds. You need to be organized and detail-oriented. And you need to manage risk well because a failure on your part could be detrimental to their business.  Finally, you need the proper infrastructure. Make sure you have the correct handling setup, drying setup and harvesting tools so you can manage the crop separately from your other organic and conventional crops. To be honest, not every organic farmer can serve the specialty markets. The time and management required to succeed may not fit with the rest of their operation.  So how do you know if you have what it takes to become a specialty grower? Talk to one. They can explain what it takes to succeed and how to determine if it’s a good move for your business.  If you don’t know any organic specialty growers, reach out to us. Our team at AgriSecure has first-hand experience with the specialty markets. Our mission is to help farmers succeed with organics, so we’ll give you the expertise you need. Your first call with us is always free. Contact us today for a free consultation or visit agrisecure.com for more info.


Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to become a farmer from scratch. Between the land and equipment required, most people don’t have the money to get started on their own. That is if you’re trying to do it with conventional crops. That’s the situation Nick Casey found himself in. Growing up working on farms, Nick always wanted to be a farmer. But he wasn’t grandfathered into an operation and didn’t have the cash to buy one.  However, he did have 10 acres in Ramsey, Illinois, that he purchased in 2014. While working at a school, he heard a student talk about how her father got into organics. It piqued his interest. So he met with the student’s father and decided to give organic farming a try. He grew his first organic crop of white corn in 2018. Because the land had been in food plots since 2014, Nick already completed the organic transition process and was able to jump into organics right away.  Check out this blog post to learn more He also decided to work with an organic certification company, but it wasn’t a great experience. It took talking to the company and the organic farmer he knew to understand what information he needed to provide.  So when he met AgriSecure account executive Kenn Jenkins at the Farm Progress Show that fall, it didn’t take long for him to switch.  “I looked at dollar for dollar and saw I’d be getting three or four times the services for the same amount of money I was getting just for certification.” - Nick Casey And the certification process improved. Instead of Nick being on his own and digging through physical documents, Kenn was present for the inspection. He brought his computer so he could send digital files immediately to the inspector. And he answered questions that were out of Nick’s scope. “The certification process with Kenn present was less stressful because I had someone backing me up,” Nick says. “That was a tremendous advantage.” Joining AgriSecure also opened up a whole new network. Before becoming a member, Nick based his decisions on the other organic farmer. With Kenn’s help, he could find the right source of organic inputs.  Nick also tapped into expert advice and education on organic management. Instead of visiting the one organic farmer he knew — who was an hour’s drive away — he can attend webinars, access information on the AgriSecure website, or call Kenn, who he says always gets back to him in a reasonable timeframe.  This near-instant access to knowledge is not only convenient but has improved his farming. Weed management is Nick’s biggest obstacle, but he says it continues to get better because of what he’s learned from AgriSecure. Thanks to organics and AgriSecure, Nick has grown his operation to 130 acres and will be 100% organic in 2022. His goal is to continue expanding so his three sons can become farmers.   “Organic was our way to have the resources every year to expand a little bit because we were profitable,” he says. Joining AgriSecure has made that pursuit easier. Nick considers partnering with the company a necessity for organic farmers. “It’s well worth the money spent to tie in with AgriSecure.” AgriSecure was founded by organic farmers to help other farmers make the leap with success. If you’d like to become a farmer, expand your farm, or secure better profits, organics may be the solution. Contact AgriSecure to schedule a free consultation .


It’s been ingrained in you your entire farming life: plant early.  But if you’re an organic farmer, or in the process of becoming one, your new mantra should be the complete opposite. Ignore your neighbors rolling through their fields in early April — your time will come at the end of May. Why should organic farmers plant later? Let’s discuss. Your goal as an organic farmer is to get your crop out of the ground as fast as possible. You want to see it emerge within 72 hours of planting and canopied within 2-3 weeks. The faster your crop emerges, the more it can get in front of the weeds. And the only way your crop will emerge that quickly is if the soil temperature is warm and stays warm. We prefer to plant when the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees.  Conditions are also usually a little drier if you wait later to plant. Higher moisture means more weed growth. And if you plant later than your neighbors, it reduces the odds of cross pollination tainting your organic crop. Data from AgriSecure’s MyFarm platform show that planting later is also advantageous for yield. There’s a strong correlation between planting around May 20-25 and above average organic yields. Like many areas of the country, our organic farm in Iowa experienced less-than-ideal moisture this year.  When these conditions pop up, it’s important to think about tillage timing and cover crop use. Think about how you need to adjust those two practices to ensure you have enough soil moisture for germination. You don’t want to till 2 inches deep and dry out the soil where the seed will be planted. Instead, you may opt for tilling a half-inch deep to control weeds while preserving some moisture. In addition to pushing back the planting date, organic farmers should consider bumping up their seeding population. This helps offset the risk of low germination, though it’s worth noting that with the quality of organic seed today, that’s not a huge concern. It also helps protect plant losses that occur during weed control. On our farm, we up the population about 5%, but you could go up to 10%. Despite best intentions and execution, you may have a field that’s looking like it won’t fulfill its yield potential. Should you replant? First consider stand count. If your stand is too low, crop insurance will cover it. The payout is based on an estimated yield loss times the spring grain price. Even if stand count is good, you may decide it’s worth replanting based on weed pressure. Please note: crop insurance cover this. But weeds can be so detrimental we’ve found it’s worth it to pay out-of-pocket for a replant to get the weeds under control. Even this year we made the mistake of planting too early, and decided to replant because of the amount of weeds. Planting timing is just one of the changes in thought processes you’ll make in your transition to organic. Why go it alone when you can be guided by those who have been there, done that? Schedule a free consultation with AgriSecure to learn how we can help make your organic farm as successful and profitable as possible.


26 July 2021

by FBN Network

With 2021 being such an interesting year, we thought it would be good to check in with the FBN ® Network and understand the top concerns our members are currently facing. We recently sent a poll via SMS asking our members to respond with their top concern for 2021.  As you can see, there is quite a divide between areas of extreme drought and excess precipitation. Neither is ideal for crop conditions. As farming goes, we hope that things even out in the remaining weeks as we gear up towards harvest.