All I Want For Christmas Is a New Farm Bill

Dear Congress, 
What I would like for Christmas is a New Farm Bill! 
Sincerely,
Curt

 

One of my favorite things about living in South Dakota is the changing of seasons. While we can be burning up, working in the sun on a 95o summer day, we take comfort in knowing that in 6 months, we will be wearing 3 layers of clothing doing our best to stay warm in -10o while doing the exact same tasks.  The yearly seasonal weather extremes that are encountered in the Midwest reinforce the need for a strong crop insurance program to be included in the next Farm Bill.

The time for action is now as the Agricultural Act of 2014 – known widely as the Farm Bill – has expired and farmers are making their projections for the 2019 crop year. Funding for Multi-Peril Crop Insurance subsidies is included in the Farm Bill and widely used by farmers in South Dakota to help protect some of the risk that is inherent when raising crops in the upper Midwest. A farmer that operates 1000 acres and has a corn/soybeans crop rotation may invest between $300-500 per acre over the course of a growing season depending on crop type and yield goal. He/she invests the same dollar amount as the market price of a nice $300,000-$500,000 house. Farmers put that amount at risk every single year they farm.

Opponents of crop insurance generally voice the concern that subsidies for the farmer’s premium is too generous. The big fact often missed in many discussions about crop insurance funding is the level of loss incurred by the farm operation before any loss indemnity is paid to the grower. The typical deductible that SD farmers choose on their crop insurance policies is 25% or a 75% coverage level which keeps the cost of their crop insurance in the realm of affordable. This means the farmer must incur a loss of between $75,000-$125,000 before any payment is made on their policy. The same catastrophic weather events in this area that cause home damage consequently cause crop damage. If, in comparison, I had a $400,000 home, a common deductible on my homeowner’s insurance policy would be only $1000-$5000.

Since the adoption of crop insurance by a majority of farmers in the US, we no longer have ad hoc disaster relief bills coming thru Congress. Disaster relief comes after the fact and seems to always be offered to everyone, even though they have not contributed toward the funding.  With crop insurance, farmers choose their deductible, pay their premium, and are then paid in the event of a loss only up to your coverage level. Farmers pay a fair share of the premium and, many years, never have a loss (which is always the goal of policyholders.)  No farmer ever wants to incur a loss on their policy. They also understand that if there are fewer loss claims, there is a lower loss ratio, and, therefore, lower premiums – a win for everyone involved!

Our great country’s ability to have a sustainable and stable crop insurance program helps to ensure that farmers are willing AND able to continue providing the cheapest (based on % of annual income) and safest food supply in the world.  We hope that if the lame duck Congress doesn’t pass a Farm Bill, the new mix in Washington D.C. can come to common ground and quickly pass this important legislation in the New Year.

Featured Image Credit: J. David Ake

Plot Performance for 2018

Harvest has come to a close (or nearly so) for most of us in eastern South Dakota, and as we approach the holiday season it’s important to look back and give thanks for the things that have gone well in the past year. We have been privileged here at Bauman Agency to have the opportunity to test some of these hybrids ourselves, and to work with several other farmers who were willing to devote some of their precious crop land to testing Pioneer Hybrids both new and old. We’d like to thank each of them for their help!

Of course, sales for next year’s seed is already underway, and knowing what varieties performed well will be essential in helping any operating decide what it will put in the ground next year. We hope you find the details of this year’s plot performance helpful in making these decisions for your farm and your family. As always, if you need help, just give us a call. After all, here at Bauman Agency we see seed from your side of the fence.

Test Plot Details


Featured Image: United Soybean Board

Are You a 2018 Yield Hero?

Bauman Agency is pleased to introduce our Hybrid Yield Hero contest for 2018! The yield contest is for each individual Pioneer corn and soybean product from the 2018 growing season. Each hybrid winner will be displayed on a banner that will remain on the Bauman Agency “Wall of Fame” for the year. They will also win a personalized Bauman Agency jacket and an invitation for 2 to our annual Yield Hero Dinner.

Rules and Regulations

  1. All entries must be harvested from Pioneer brand seed purchased from Bauman Agency.
  2. Each entry must consist of no less than 10 contiguous acres.
  3. Only one entry per person per hybrid. Producers may enter as many hybrids as they purchased.
  4. Each entry must be submitted on a separate entry form.
  5. All yields will be adjusted to dry bushels per acre (13% moisture for soybeans, 14% moisture for corn.)
  6. Yield evidence must be presented as scale tickets or a contiguous yield map from a calibrated yield monitor.
  7. Irrigated and dry-land acres will be in separate hybrid divisions.
  8. Winners must agree to have their picture taken. Bauman Agency will use these photographs in print and social media advertising.
  9. Deadline for entries is December 1st, 2018.
  10. If a tie should occur, the winner will be decided by whomever submitted the most Yield Hero entries

Complete ALL of the information and submit the entry form along with all production evidence to:

Bauman Agency
19897 SD Hwy 37
Huron, SD 57350

Remember: All entries are due at the Bauman Agency office by December 1st, 2018.

Yield Hero Rules and Entry Form

Featured Image Credit: JD Hancock

Looking to 2019 with Optimism

Every year, in the late fall, we farmers must start making decisions for the next growing season.  We will do just about anything to avoid that thought process: “I don’t want to pick a hybrid that I haven’t seen on my farm.” or “I’m not sure what fertilizer will cost for the next season.” or “I don’t want to plant any soybeans with the current market situation.” Etc…

The facts are, we could (and should!) make some assumptions based on what we have had success with in the past.  We are creatures of habit.  If we planted 50% of our acres to corn over the last ten years, it is probable that we will plant 50% to corn next year.  If there is a hybrid that has historically performed well on your farm, be sure to visit with your seed salesperson and make a planting plan.  They might even have new varieties that are even better than your old favorites. Using that thought process as a template for the next growing season should make some buying decisions easier.

The ability of today’s technology to access and utilize long term weather data, current year weather information, soil test results, yield history, amount of fertilizer used by the plant, and projected vs. potential yield goals is amazing.  Fertilizer needs can be estimated and then, later, fine-tuned to meet specific yield goals.  There are even some great computer applications for tracking plant fertilizer use that are available for purchase.  Today’s fertility management capabilities are significantly superior to just 10 years ago.  I have seen yield increases of up to 30 bushels/acre attributed to late season fertilizer applications. That alone equates a 300% rate of return – even when a higher priced custom application was used and even when calculated with the highest 2018 price/lb of nitrogen.  Will this be the result every year? I can’t answer that, but, I have found this higher rate of return to be consistent across several seasons of testing and believe that it is worthy of further utilization.

Some farmers may be contemplating fewer soybean acres in 2019 due to the seemingly low market prices, yet, when I do the math for input management, soybeans are the best net return per acre if I lock in next year’s November price and using my long-term yield average.  The risk/reward of planting soybeans makes me lean toward planting the same number of acres or even a few more next year.

I am looking forward to starting 2019 with great soil moisture and only slightly higher fertilizer costs.  That sure makes all this decision-making a lot more fun!

Featured Image Credit: Dafne Cholet

Quality Grains Bring Quality Profits

In farming increasing yields is the end game.  This year, in particular, yield quantities may be quite variable in eastern South Dakota.  With markedly low commodity prices and an early harvest of both corn and beans, grain storage for longer than average periods can be expected.

As a Pioneer Seed sales rep I spend my days helping corn and soybean growers achieve their goals of maximum grain production while increasing efficiencies and decreasing risks.   In fact, providing growers with the right products for their acres, seed protection, and technology tools to improve planting accuracy, and data collection and analysis, as well as risk management options from crop insurance products, is part of Bauman Agency’s philosophy to assist in making the greatest possible profit from our products.

As we prepare to bin the 2018 crop, we need to remember some of the lessons learned from past storage challenges.  Bauman Agency tries to provide helpful information to “insure” your continued success.  With that in mind, earlier this month, we brought in John Gnadke of Advance Grain Systems, Inc., from Ankeny, IA.    John has devoted his career to the grain drying and storage business in the US and Canada.  He consults with some of the largest grain companies yet also knows the challenges of small farm bins and gives helpful insights into each individual’s unique storage needs.

Raising a bumper crop, putting it into a bin, and then not checking it regularly is a common theme that John sees across the US.  He says that if we had a 5 gallon pail of cash sitting just inside the door of our bins, we would be much more willing to go, open the door and check to see that it is still in there.  The opportunity to capture a premium on quality grain can quickly turn into a discount due to musty odor or 2-3% damage by allowing a crust to form on the top.

Grain Bins, Probably Without Buckets of Cash

We need to prepare to possibly store the 2018 crop, deep into 2019, before a market potentially opens up at a profitable level. Take steps to put the grain in the bin in good shape and then develop a plan of action to keep it that way.

The most important aspect of grain handling and storage is your safety!  Grain inspection should always involve two people one inside the bin and the other outside on standby.  Before entering a grain storage area, make sure bin ladders are safe climbing condition, shut down all electrical power, fans, and unloading equipment, wear an air filtration mask to protect yourself from toxic molds, and be sure your footwear is clear of mud or snow when climbing bin ladders.  Protecting your health and life are critical to the success of your farming operation and your family’s happiness.  Please be careful.   Here’s to a safe harvest of both quality and quantity.  Enjoy!

Image Credit: Michael Curi

Taking the Road to Success

Fall is a great time to evaluate how our management decisions made this spring have worked out.  Did the “road map” we laid out last winter and executed throughout the spring and summer get us where we wanted to go?  When traveling the Huron area, it is evident when a weed management program worked on soybean fields, but, getting a handle on how well our corn weed control program worked takes a few steps into a field.

While we are looking at corn fields and checking our herbicide success or failure, it is also a great time to investigate whether our planter was set properly in the spring.  The opportunity to improve stands with Deltaforce, Speed-tube, and V-Drive from Precision Planting become even more evident when walking down a corn row and figuring out why some plants have produced a nice ear and others have only a partial ear.  Was it pollination, emergence, or improper planting depth?

A careful inspection of the roots beneath a plant will give us insight into management solutions we should consider in 2019 and beyond.  Everyone likes a new planter, but we may be miles (and dollars) ahead by investing in an upgrade to our existing planter rather than completely replacing it.  We would love the opportunity to discuss those potential solutions for your planter on your farm.

While we in crop production wrestle with the issues that we encounter along the road toward harvest, it is heartwarming to recognize the successful young people that our communities have helped set on the path to achievement.

Make plans to tune in to ABC television at 8 pm on Sunday night the 9th of September.
We will be rooting for Miss South Dakota 2018, Carrie Wintle.  Carrie grew up in rural Iroquois and graduated from Huron High School in 2012.  She is promoting financial literacy while representing her home state.  She has published 2 books that appeal to 2 age groups of youth instilling the basics of financial literacy.  I learned a few things from the books, too!  They are available by contacting Carrie at   www.Money-sheep.com. She is an asset that we can all be proud of!  Go Carrie!

Another home grown star is Abby Bischoff, a rural Huron native.  Abby lives in Sioux Falls and has produced, for several years, a popular Abandoned South Dakota wall calendar featuring photographs of rural South Dakota. Abby has now published a beautiful Coffee Table book highlighting more beautiful photos. Start your Christmas shopping early or secure a copy of this book for yourself by going to abandonedsd.com.

Finally, while attending the SD State Fair, in Huron, be sure to take in the 4-H livestock and static exhibits.  Abby and Carrie are both examples of what 4-Hers can do when they “grow up.” You will be proud of all the things the boys and girls in 4-H have accomplished over just the past year. Just imagine what‘s in store for them down the road!

Plot Tour – Monday, 27 August 2018

It’s time for Bauman Agency’s annual plot tour! Please join us at 10am on 27 August 2018 for a tour of our test and research plots, so we can show you the best new hybrids we have to offer. We’d love to share what’s “outstanding” in our fields so that next season, your operation’s yield performance can be even better!

Meet us at 19897 SD Hwy 37, just 9 miles north of Huron, SD, for the tour. Lunch is on us! Please call us at 605-353-1112 with any questions! We look forward to seeing you!

 

The Race is On

Corn maturation is way ahead of schedule this year.  Recently, I turned on my television to the “oldies” channel and watched part of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma.”  Driving around Beadle County in mid-July, I find myself humming the opening tune from the movie, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and wondering if the “bright golden haze in the meadow “ is talking about South Dakota  rather than a state several miles to the south.  We just might have corn growing “as high as an elephant’s eye and it looks like it’s climbing clear up to the sky!” In fact, the corn is so tall in some places that I am not sure I could see any part of an elephant if there was one standing in a field.  My old goal of knee high by the 4th of July has progressed to shoulder high by the 4th and this year we had many fields that were 6-8’ tall by the 4th.  Why?

A typical corn plant takes about 2500 GDU (growing degree units – a measure of heat units that corn needs to grow) to reach maturity in early October each year.  This spring, we got into our fields later than normal and it stayed cooler into May a little longer than we would like to see.  Yet, Mother Nature always has a card or two to play, and, by the middle of July 2018, we are running almost 350 GDU’s ahead of our normal.  That may seem great for hiding elephants in our fields, but it pushes our pollination up by about 2 weeks.  This could come back to be a negative if we get into a hot dry last half of July.

By the time you read this we will know what happened in late July, and I am planning (hoping) that it is wet and our corn crop is continuing on its race to another bumper crop in 2018 (USDA is forecasting over 14 billion bushels- a 172 bu per acre average yield nationwide).

My take home thoughts are this:  this spring, I talked to growers about staying the course on their normal maturity corn hybrids, and many did keep with their plans.  If you planted a 103 day hybrid and we get average GDU’s from here on out, we could see those hybrids reaching black layer (physiological maturity) by early September!

Early corn maturation will create a race between corn and soybean harvest and we will be in an even bigger rush than normal to get everything in the bin.  Here’s to a race to bring in a bumper harvest with no losers and that “everything’s goin’ your way!”  Have a Beautiful Day!

Featured Image: Carl Wycoff

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