Find your edge to maximize returns this year. That could mean cutting costs, approaching marketing more strategically or a host of other calculated decisions. Learn from three farmers who are doing things a little different on their farms.
Ask for more from your input rep. Iowa corn and soybean farmer Ben Riensche is making input reps work harder and wait longer for his money. He’s willing to pay for premium products as long as ROI is proven.
“These guys can’t just run a Dutch auction and give me the same input prices they gave me in the good years,” he says. “I need them to bring value and ideas.”
Sometimes an out-of-the-box idea can make a difference. For example, Riensche bought a seed treater and does all of his treating on-farm now.
As of early March, Riensche has only a couple hundred bags of seed locked in for 2018 planting. If you wait longer to order, you can’t be
too particular about specific products, he cautions.
“It only works if you’re willing to switch brands and not picky about hybrid or variety—if you want a specific hybrid or variety you’re better off buying early,” he adds.
It might be beneficial to try something new but keep your investment small in case it’s a bust. Now isn’t the time to try a whole lot of new products, says Blissfield, Mich., corn, soybean and winter wheat farmer Matt Stutzman. “It’s not that I don’t try anything, I just don’t jump in on as many acres.
“One of the things we’re going to try on 10 acres, versus 100 acres, is a growth regulator on wheat to see if we can improve yield. I need to make my money back and gain a few bushels to use it again, not just break even,” he adds.
Be a price maker, not a price taker when it comes to selling grain. Hoxie, Kan., farmer Brent Rogers has hired a broker to help him sell a portion of his corn, soybeans and winter wheat.
“This is the second year we’ve used a marketing firm,” he says. “The jury is still out on how much benefit it provides. We have over $4 positions on corn for the 2018 crop; if you take off basis, I’m at $3.75 corn. I typically market half of my grain by myself well and hired someone to do a better job of marketing the other half.”
Rogers is also working with area feedlots, which results in a premium versus selling at the elevator. Look for niche marketing options in your area, such as feedlots or ethanol plants, to see if there are premiums for you to gain.