Phipps: Big Crops Get Bigger

November 21, 2017 08:20 AM

The following content is commentary and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

U.S. Farm Report commentator John Phipps waited to let the dust settle after the latest USDA crop production report was released Nov. 9 to comment on the findings.

He says market experts will be the ones sorting out possible solutions to the pricing problems, but what will be more concerning is how farmers respond in 2018.

Watch Phipps’ commentary every weekend on U.S. Farm Report.

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Spell Check

Larry Caldwell
Myrtle Creek, OR
11/23/2017 03:45 PM

  Your comment that you have no choice but to plant corn and soybeans brought up thoughts about ag infrastructure. Washington grows apples. I'm sure Illinois would grow apples too, but there is no infrastructure. You need skilled field hands to prune and thin, cold storage facilities, packing plants and a marketing organization, plus a lot of grower knowledge. If you planted 500 acres of apples, you would sink without a trace, even though that apple tree in the back yard yields a bumper crop every year. If you go from field corn to sweet corn, you need canneries and freezing plants within easy trucking distance. Idaho raises potatoes and sugar beets, both of which need their own infrastructure. Oregon produces 90% of the US supply of hazelnuts, which still takes a back seat to Turkey, but the Chinese are buying all they can get their hands on. It seems to me that the Midwest has produced itself into a corner. Highly mechanized field crops have let farmers almost eliminate farm labor. That puts all your eggs in only two baskets. It might be a good idea for the farmers in a 30 mile radius to experiment with small acreages of alternative crops, while developing a central processing facility to handle the crop. Diversified crops would give you more than two choices when the market takes a dump


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