The corn growing season has come to a close, with most of the corn grown in 2013 in the bin. Now growers are starting to think about their planting goals for 2014, how they will divide their fields between corn and soybeans, and when they will sell their grain.
The annual meeting of the Fond du Lac-Dodge Corn Growers Association on Thursday (Dec. 19) provided seed for thought as the growers make these decisions.
About seventy growers were on hand to hear updates on current legislation affecting farmers, the latest information on yield mapping, and what’s happening in the markets.
IMPLEMENTS OF HUSBANDRY
Lobbyist Bob Welch works with corn growers and the ethanol industry in monitoring legislative issues.
He provided updates on proposed changes regarding “Implements of Husbandry” and talked about how that will change things on the farm.
He said what started out as concerns about weights of equipment on rural roads has led to complete changes in rules governing farm machinery. The total weight limit is not as much a concern as the axle limits.
He said, “The corn growers aren’t the only ones concerned. We’re working closely with other farm organizations who are in agreement are working together to make sure the new rules will be workable for farmers.”
One effort is to exempt combines and self-propelled single-function pieces that are only on roads during limited times of the year.
He said there are also some proposals that don’t make sense. One, he believes, is restrictions on equipment with tracks. He said the proposals do not make considerations for the fact that the weight is more evenly distributed with tracks. It is also impossible to measure when using axle-limits as the standard.
Corn growers agree that tracks, intended to prevent compaction on fields, actually distribute the weight more evenly on roads, too, and would cause less problems than loading the machine on a truck and haul it with all the weight on the back wheels.
The proposed rules also do not give credit to farmers using the newer soft balloon tires on equipment to distribute weight.
Farmers are also concerned that they could be forced to get permits from state, county and town authorities or haul implements on trailers rather than drive from field to field.
Joe Lauer, UW Extension corn agronomist, shared information on collecting field history information and using it to get a handle on how to manage the fields for the next growing season.
To maximize field productivity and profitability, growers are increasingly using site-specific management rather than whole field management practices.
Lauer described the researchers’ effort to look at spatial and temporal yield variability to predict grain yield of specific land cells (parcels of land). The goal is to determine if yield maps allow accurate delineation of management zones for prescription applications.
Yield monitors are the first step many producers take into the age of precision farming. While their cost is reasonable, the commitment of time and resources required to effectively use this technology is significant.
A yield monitor, combined with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, is simply an electronic tool that collects data on crop performance for a given year. The monitor measures and records information such as crop mass, moisture, area covered, and location. Yield data are automatically calculated from these variables.
Lauer points out that yield monitors come with various technical designs and features; however, yield monitors alone do not generate maps said collecting field data over the years and finding a way to manage all the data is an investment that could be helpful when selling or renting out land. The information can also be used to make a prescription for field management, treating various sections of the field according to a specific need.
Jim Cronin of Advance Trading, Bloomington, Illinois, shared his views on the market situation in light of carry over corn, current world demand, and changes that are being considered by the government regarding ethanol.
He urged growers to consider their break-even levels and use options. He suggested, “Make sure the down side is covered. You need to lock in a down side on the price and that’s where options come in,” he said. “As volatility increases, option prices also increase.”
While Cronin sounded a bit bearish in his report, he said there is still a lot of demand and, while the ethanol situation is scary, it’s not all doom and gloom.