No Time Like the Present

Deadlines; meet one and there is another fast on its heels.

One person’s approach to meeting deadlines can be a lot different than another’s.   Some of us work best under pressure; others enjoy the satisfaction of getting done well in advance of the 11th hour.  I guess I am a last-minute kind of guy.  Interestingly, much as I dawdle at getting things done in a timely fashion, I sure am annoyed when I am ready to attack the next project (behind schedule, of course) and the equipment I need to proceed isn’t ready to go, because once again, I waited until the last minute. Ironic isn’t it?

Once planting is done, if you are the really efficient type, the planter is cleaned up, inspected, adjustments and repairs made and then the planter tucked in the shed until next spring.  When that baby is pulled out of the shed in the spring it is ready to roll to the field.

The fairly efficient grower will clean up the planter, perhaps make a few notes about what to work on during the winter months, and then put the planter away until winter or maybe early spring.  When spring rolls around there may still be some work needing to be done.  If notes were made they come in pretty handy.

The last-minute grower gets the planter put away just before the first snow flies, hopefully.   The planter gets pulled out of the shed in the spring, and then the head scratching begins.  What was it that I want to be sure was fixed on this planter from last year?   Meanwhile the planting deadline looms.

No matter which camp you may fit into you may not be as well organized nor as far behind as you think.   If you answer no to any one of the following questions, your planter should not be in the shed!

  1. Have you walked your fields to identify mechanical planting errors? Did your starter work like you intended?  Did your corn come up evenly or is some of it a collar or 2 behind?
  2. Have you written down your plans for improving your planter’s performance in 2019? (And I don’t mean trading it in)
  3. Have planter meters been inspected, cleaned, and calibrated for next season?
  4. Have you analyzed your planting maps and do they show if each row planted as you set it?
  5. Have you gotten quotes for planter upgrades that will address your planter’s issues?

Now is the time to analyze your plant stand, and your planter’s issues.  Meters should be worked on now and put away clean and prepped.  Summertime is the budget friendliest time to purchase upgrades and the best time to make wise logical choices to improve your planter’s efficiency. The best part? There’s no deadline pressure looming! No deadline, that is, other than the Precision Planting Summer Deal Upgrade Package from Bauman Agency, in which we offer a $200 discount per row, ending August 31st.

We are happy to walk fields with you.   Jonathan, Callee and Wade can help you analyze your plant stand with the aid of Precision Planting’s Pogo.  Planter issues can be identified and resolved with summer deals and meters can be checked.  Our service is budget friendly and long on experience.   Give us a call at Bauman Agency, 605-353-1112. After all, there is no time like the present!

Image Credit: Sharib4rd

Hot Days and Cool Nights: Perfect for High Corn Yields

Today, as we wait with snow steadily falling and planters ready to go to the field, I am fielding calls about when, and if, a farmer should change his intended corn maturity. My recommendation is, and always has been, to stay the course on hybrids that are best suited for our area, up until the 15th-20th of May. Here’s why.

I have always believed that planting 103-105 day hybrids in the Beadle County area was the best management choice for high yields year after year. In the 2017 Research Summary from Pioneer, an article by research agronomists explains WHY my long held beliefs are true.

It seems that high yielding corn likes warm days and cool nights to reach fullest yield potential. When shorter day hybrids are planted, the window of grain fill in the fall is narrowed.  When shorter day maturities are planted earlier in the spring, the critical grain fill period for corn is moved to mid-August through mid-September, when nights still remain warm.

The high yielding corn of today contains much of the genetic heritage of corn plants that originally grew in the high plains of Mexico, where days are warm and nights are cool.  Planting the longer day corn varieties in our area delays the maturity of the plant until September and early October when we get the cooling effect of fall nights.

Why is this important?

When corn grows all day long there is a buildup of stored energy (sugar) in the plant. Think of a corn plant as we would the gas tank in our car.  When the “tank” is full, more sugars are being produced and that produced energy must go someplace.  A full corn “tank“ turns excess sugars into starch in the kernels.  The more starches built into the reserve, the higher the yield.  Therefore, warm sunny days encourage the most production from the corn plant.

Corn is a living plant that also lives at night.  When nights are warm, the corn plant must use some of the energy that it produced the day before to respirate. The higher the nighttime respiration the more energy it consumes that it held to build starches.  On a cool night, the plant respiration slows so that it doesn’t use as much of its stored energy.  Thinking again of a corn plant as a full “gas” tank, if I park my car at night and don’t drive my tank is still full the next morning (cool night, 50 degrees).  If I let my car idle all night long, the tank is a little less full, but not significantly so (cool night, 65 degrees).  If I drive my car all night, (warm night 80 degrees) I will need to refill before I can start my normal routine.

Planting 103-105 day hybrids allow us to capitalize on the ideal high-yield weather that generally occurs, in our area, the last week of August thru the first week of October.  That is, of course, unless we get an early frost!

Featured Image Credit: Patrick Findeiss

Opportunity Out of Adversity

On a recent trip Louise and I were delayed 4 hours from departure from Joe Foss field, in Sioux Falls.  We spent 2 hours on the plane and then 2 hours off the plane, while we waited for the elusive de-icer to appear. Consequently, we missed our connection and spent a short night in a Dallas, Texas hotel before making another connection and then our final destination, twenty-four hours late.

There was some solace in our predicament because eight Pioneer Sales Agencies, sixteen people in all, were flying on the same plane, with the same itinerary. We each knew only a couple of the others; most were strangers when we first got on the plane. Four hours later we were getting well acquainted as we worked together in getting our flights rebooked, vouchers for accommodations procured, ground transportation set up etc. The experience highlighted a few lessons:

  • Delayed airline departure to a business meeting where it is warm and sunny in the middle of winter is a “First-World Problem.”
  • Accept the things that you cannot change……. and make the best of it.
  • When you can control the outcome get busy and protect your interests.
  • New friends and great relationships can be made while solving problems together.

 In hindsight we realized that we got acquainted with great people that we wouldn’t have gotten to know as well under normal circumstances.  We look forward to meeting them again.

How do I apply my highlighted lessons to the importance of crop insurance?

  • March 15th is the Sales Closing Date for Crop Insurance Coverage for the 2018 growing season.  Crop Insurance is our “First-World” opportunity to protect our yields and our revenue.   Take advantage of your many options and products available to best insure your crops.
  • Weather:  We haven’t figured out how to control it….yet.  Best option?  Accept it and insure against it.
  • Crop Insurance can be a grower’s tool to manage risk and insure profits in a very risky line of work considering today’s environment of low commodity prices.  A good relationship with a knowledgeable, well trained, crop insurance agent, who understands crop and livestock production, and has a good understanding of your operation and your goals, is critical.  Working with your agent determining your farms best cropping strategy is an important step in realizing your profit potential.  Your coverage should be tailored to your needs and your agent should be available to you when you need him or her. Your relationship with your crop insurance agent is important and a good relationship will allow for a great problem solving team.    

Louise and I, and our staff, have been in the crop insurance business for more than a few years now and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.  We’ve made ourselves available to you beyond the office and appreciate the relationships we have made with many of you and look forward to getting acquainted with more of you.  Each one of us has established ourselves in this area with our own farming operations.  At Bauman Agency we are here to stay and we truly do see crop insurance from your side of the fence.   All of us welcome the opportunity to work together, with you, to insure your success.

Featured Image Credit: Bartkusa

Meter Calibration Special: $25 per Row Through March 2nd

Bauman Agency is your home for Precision Planting sales and service! We know that even though there’s snow on the ground and the winds are blowing, the 2018 planting season is just around the corner. From today through Friday, March 2nd, bring your meters in to Bauman Agency and we’ll calibrate your meters for only $25 per row. Want to know more about how to get the most out of your equipment? Join us on March 28th for a special hands-on training day.

We can’t wait to see you! After all, we’re Bauman Agency, and we see seed, crop insurance, and planter technology…from your side of the fence.

Featured Image: Cooper Ness

Navigating 2018: Free Market and Crop Insurance Seminar on February 16

Please join Bauman Agency on Friday, February 16th for a free seminar on navigating the marketing opportunities and pitfalls for 2018. Rich Morrison, a senior risk analyst from Diversified Services will be on hand to answer your questions about how to maximize your operation’s profit potential this year. We’ll also be ready to share the newest crop insurance strategies, the latest in planter enhancements, and more — all with a free lunch to boot!

The event will be held at the Nordby 4-H exhibit hall on the SD State Fairgrounds in Huron, from 9:30am to 3:00pm. See you there!

The Ground Hog vs. New Year‘s Resolutions

As I write this note, I am reminded by my wife that I made several New Year’s resolutions that I have yet to work at accomplishing.  We spent several evenings before the end of 2017 discussing what areas of our life needed improvement, and even got Charleston Wachter (our 5 year old grandson) to enumerate his goals for the New Year.

One of my first and foremost resolutions was to be a better marketer for the commodities I grow.  We had no problem focusing on the holes in my 2016/2017 grain marketing.  I was determined not to sell corn for less than $3/bushel, as I wanted to make a profit as well as cover my cost of production:  so much for that plan as I sold a bunch of corn for way less than that.  Even though the $3/bushel opportunities were there, I did not act and my hesitation due to fear and greed was costly.

My 2018 marketing goal is still to sell corn for $3 or more per bushel.  This year I am “resolved” to pull the trigger on some bushels.   One of the first steps to figuring out my target price of $3 was determining my cost of production in 2017.  I have all that info at hand, including my yields vs. how much I spent to accomplish those yields and what my fixed costs are/were.  When you are dueling with a foe, you will always lose if you never pull the trigger.  Hence, $3 here I come!

Should $3 be your marketing goal?  Maybe, or maybe not. What is your cost of production?  What target price do you need to cover your cost of production and meet your operation’s needs?

Perhaps the best way to better understand the upcoming market opportunities in 2018 is to come and listen and question Rich Morrison, a Senior Risk Analyst for Diversified Services, a division of one of the crop insurance companies for which we write.  Rich, a marketing guru, will be our guest at a FREE seminar focused on the Crop Marketing Outlook for 2018.  Rich always provides solid information and is happy to field your questions.  Join us Friday morning February 16th at the Nordby Event Center on the SD State Fairgrounds in Huron and consider what Rich has to say.  I can guarantee that he knows more about marketing than I ever will and he also understands how subsidized multi-peril crop insurance revenue products can help you develop a solid marketing plan.

Groundhog Day is around the corner.  We all know how dependable Punxatauney Phil’s forecasting is. Obviously, my “predicting” skills are no good, so I have to rely on the information I have at hand, advice from the experts, and a steady hand when pulling my 2018 trigger.

Back to Charleston, a couple of his New Year’s resolutions were to 1) take his dad to the Cracker Barrel and to 2) have his Dad take him to Chucky Cheese.  These are both lofty goals for a five year old and I wish him better luck at accomplishing them than this grandpa has been at achieving his.  But this year, by golly, is going to be different and a success for us both!

The Secrets to Success

In a recent study, “Successful Farmer” magazine found that farmers who adopted Precision Technology had an average annual yield gain of 20-40%.  How is that possible?  In my experience from the years spent working on my own farm and from walking the fields of my customers and friends, I have observed a few key actions that are taken to make these farmers a cut above the rest.

  • They consistently perform routine maintenance. I am always struck by each grower’s care of their machinery, or in some cases, the lack thereof.  To me, it doesn’t have to be the newest or the shiniest to get the job done, but it DOES require that whatever equipment used is maintained.  It isn’t possible to achieve the highest potential yields without making sure the instruments you use to achieve them are accurate and fully functional.  Often, I see planters that are “good enough” to get by, but fail to meet the standards of maintenance excellence needed to achieve an “excellent” crop.  It’s all about bushels gained, especially in an economic climate with low corn prices.  Maintaining your planter is an excellent start.
  • They calibrate their equipment. After things are in good working order, it is important to calibrate each piece of technology so the information you gather is accurate.  There is nothing more disappointing than seeing huge yields on the monitor in the combine, then seeing just a fraction of that translate to dollars at the elevator. We can collect all the data we want, but if the data isn’t accurate, is there any value to it?  A farm is a business, and if we treat it like we should, at the end of the day, we need an unfettered picture of reality on our farm to make better decisions for the next year.
  • They adopt technology and use it to their advantage. It is astounding how quickly technology changes and evolves in this day and age, and even more amazing to imagine all the uses for it.  The ag industry is no different than the rest of the world with a hunger for the “latest” thing to make operating easier and more efficient on a daily basis.  What I have found with my most successful growers, is that the technology they do invest in, they USE.  They don’t buy corn planters for what it COULD do someday in the future, but what it CAN do on their farm today.  They don’t buy an iPad and hope to someday integrate something at the farm, it is purchased and put to work to share and analyze field information.  Make it an investment working immediately FOR you, not a liability collecting dust.
  • Finally, they walk their fields and “dig” into issues. The biggest hallmark of a top-notch grower is their willingness to dig in the dirt.  Aerial imagery, planting maps, etc. are a wonderful tool for telling you what happened, but if you want to understand the health and viability of your field, there is no better picture than checking things out live and in color.  Getting your hands dirty allows you to gain a perspective that digital information cannot.  You can detect what may need improvement and note what you did well this growing year.

While this is nowhere near a complete list of requirements for big yields it is a good start.  I am certain that many of you reading this have done some or all of these things, but, for me, it is a good reminder of the actions I need to take day in and day out to truly be a “successful farmer.”

Featured Image Credit: US Department of Agriculture

December 20: Planting Clinic for 2018

Bauman Agency is ready to help you navigate all the steps you’ll need to take in 2018 to help your farm thrive!

We’re hosting a special free planting clinic on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Bauman Agency (9 miles north of Huron), where we will talk about all the right steps you’ll need to take from the bag to the bin in 2018.

We’ll give you the 2017 yield review, give you an inside scoop on 2018 soybean traits, provide you with the best strip-till strategies available, talk through all the options you’ll have for fertilizer this year, let you in on the secrets behind having a perfect stand, and congratulate this year’s Yield Hero winners!

Registration is from 10:00a to 10:30a, and lunch will be served. Please call us at 605-353-1112 with any questions. We’ll see you there!

Additional information is available here.

We’re Bauman Agency, and we see seed, crop insurance, and planter technology…from your side of the fence.

Image Credit: Heipei

Data Rich, Knowledge Poor

Information. It’s everywhere.  And in the ag world, it is quite the buzz word. There are more devices, add-ons, and functionality of programs and applications used daily than we could have even dreamed of 5 years ago, let alone when I started farming in the early 70’s.

As a farmer, I KNOW I need the data.  I can turn the page of any of my favorite farm magazines and read about how important it is to capture information such as what I plant, how I plant it, when I plant it, etc…but what is that really telling me?  And most importantly, how do I USE it to directly add to my bottom line? Here are a few things I have gleaned over my time as a grower working to avoid being a data rich, knowledge poor farmer.

NOT ALL DATA IS CREATED EQUAL

Too often I see folks making seed purchasing decisions by looking at a very limited scope.  How often do we accept information at face value without verifying if it is both accurate and complete?  We pick out our best piece of ground, highest performer, or sweet spot blessed with rain that year. Imagine this: I harvested my crop and am on my way to the elevator to sell it. What my yield monitor told me and what the elevator told me were not within a ½ of a percent of each other. In fact, they are as much as 30% different.

If I didn’t take the time to accurately calibrate my yield data in the first place, how can I legitimately use it to make wise decisions on my farm? Data collected at the coffee shop is never as accurate as real harvest data.  The same product in differing conditions is like comparing apples to grapes.  They are two different animals (well, plants) altogether.

DOES THIS TELL ME SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW

When trying to decide what data services I need, it can get dicey. I have to look past the bells and whistles to try to understand what features I am really paying for. Does my field report tell me exactly what I would find out if I simply got out of the cab and walked my fields; or does the information gathered add a level of analysis and comparison that I would never have penciled out on my kitchen table? Data is great, but it is most vital when it provides insights into my operation that I would not otherwise have.

IS THIS READABLE?

One question I like to ask myself is…how useful is the information if I can’t understand it?  There is a lot of wisdom in an old family bible written in Latin, and I KNOW there is something there that would really be good to use in my life…but I don’t speak Latin, haven’t learned Latin, and have no tutor to teach me Latin.  Although the information has value, I can’t use it.  I either need to get it in a form I CAN use and understand; or do the work needed to gain the skills and insights to read the material as is.  Only when I understand the data am I able to USE it.  How often do we skip that vital step and assume that just “having” is the same as “using?”

WHO DOES THIS BELONG TO?

The final litmus test is getting a grasp on who has access to my data.  Too often I see agreements with stipulations for data collection allowing the companies I buy from to see and harvest my information.  As the owner of that data, I feel I should have the opportunity to decide whose eyes are on it. Although I don’t relish having to read the fine print of every click-through contract in every piece of computer hardware and software I have in my farm operation, I think it is important to know what I am agreeing to and being comfortable with the circulation of my personal data.

BE DATA RICH…AND KNOWLEDGE RICH

In the world of digitized information there are literally hundreds of ways to collect, process, and store data. I hope these few guidelines help you determine whether you are using the necessary tools, or need to make some changes to better manage your farm in 2018.

Featured Image Credit: ajmexico