On Your Mark, Get Set…Go!

Another snow storm – what else is new?   Have you been restlessly tapping your foot, waiting for spring to come? A cold, wet Spring is not a new experience, but, it sure can be exasperating.  Calving frustrations, feeding livestock in mud, difficulties in preparing planting equipment, roadway issues, and time marching on can cause just a little stress to those in production agriculture. Many of us struggled to complete our fall tillage/fertility program, adding to our agitation.

In a year when commodity prices appear to be challenging, protecting input investments, such as the seed varieties you and your seed sales representative have selected to be best for your farm, is particularly crucial.  Your multi-peril crop insurance coverage decisions were made last month to protect your yield and mange some risk to your operation.  Planting is the next step, and planting at the right time will also help you manage risk.

Waiting to plant in the “right” soil conditions can test our patience and tempt us to go ahead, even when waiting may be the wisest move.  Seeing our neighbor in the field can be hard to ignore, but, as your folks may have told you in younger days, “Just because your friend jumped off a cliff, doesn’t mean you should too!” Good soil conditions provide an optimum seed bed, giving the seed that you have invested in the best foundation for producing an abundant crop. This year, ideal soil conditions may be hard to find.  Expect to be challenged with varied down pressure requirements as the seed bed changes from perfect to wet to dry and back again. Wait for a minimum soil temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit at two inches, while you are planting. To assist you, we take daily soil temperatures, at planting depth, throughout the month of April and publish them on our Twitter feed and Facebook page.

Planting equipment in perfect working order with seed spaced evenly and at the correct depth is vital to ensure optimal performance.  If you have seed meters that need attention, bring them in for us to test and repair.  Don’t let the flip of the calendar page cause a short change in planter preparation.  Having to stop and address issues while planting (that should or could have been handled at planter prep time) is less than ideal.

The use of seed treatments and fungicides on soybeans is especially critical in a cold wet Spring.  These treatments provide another level of protection to the seed investment you have made, and count on, to best deliver profits to you in this crop year.

2019’s Spring looks to be a year when Prevented Planting may come into play.  If prevented planting acres become a reality in your operation, visit with your crop insurance agent BEFORE you certify acres at FSA to refresh yourself on the PP rules and regulations.

Planting season is crunch time.  We are always in a hurry to get it in the ground.  Take it easy.  Be careful and do it right.  We cannot fix a planting mistake. We have to do it right the first time.  After investing so much already, make every seed count.  Get prepared and be ready to …GO!

And from my soap box:  Thank you to the Huron Area Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau and the Prairie Family Business Association for presenting us with the Huron Area Family Business of the Year Award.   Like many of you, we, and our staff, are involved in a family farming business operation.  We are fortunate to enjoy working with our daughter and son-in-law, Callee and Jonathan, here at Bauman Agency, along with a cracker-jack dedicated staff who are involved in their own farming operations.  Our family of dedicated staff members does a wonderful job serving all of you and helping us provide you with solid solutions for your seed, crop insurance, and precision planting sales and service needs from a farmer’s perspective.  We feel lucky to work with them and you!

Featured Image Credit: Richard Corfield

Penny Wise or Pound Foolish?

Last month I attended the Commodity Classic (a trade show and Convention for the countries corn, soybean, wheat, and sorghum growers) in New Orleans last month, I have to say I came home a little down in the mouth. Each presenter warned us about the rough times ahead for agriculture. I was cautioned to watch every penny spent in 2016. Even though I didn’t disagree with them, I have to say Igot pretty tired of hearing it. Although the extra inches around my middle don’t help, I am feeling that if I tighten my belt much tighter, I won’t be able to breathe!


Current economics make us consider and reconsider our management and purchasing decisions. Having a few years of farming experience under my rather tight belt, I also know that whenever most folks are being defensive in their operations, opportunities for growth and profit will pop up and I need to be watching for them. Still, there is only so much money to work with, so just where can I cut back and still not affect my opportunities for profit? One thought in the cost cutting thought process this spring is whether to treat soybean seed. Here’s my soap box take on that very question.

Soybean seed treatments such as fungicides, insecticides, protectants and growth promoters can be applied in varying combinations to the seed before it is planted, providing seed and seedling protection while it lies in the cool spring soils or the high residue fields commonly found in this region. Strong, healthy plants help ward off early season insect and disease issues. Increased root growth leads to more root surface area for greater uptake of nutrients. Soybean performance from treated beans can increase as much as 4.5 bushels an acre. We experience environments where Pythium and or Rhizoctonia (root/stem rot diseases) can have a devastating effect without some form of seedling protection.

No till and planting in cool soils (a condition that is typical until mid-June in SD) are both situations that call for treated beans. In South Dakota, since the widespread use of seed treatments began, the need to replant soybeans has diminished significantly – to nearly zero! Treatments make for a healthier, more vigorous plant. Interestingly, many farmers believe insect pressure is gone because they don’t “see” the high incidence of bean leaf beetles that they saw 10 years go. The truth is, those beetles are still around they just don’t like those treated plants as well, so their damage isn’t as visible any more.

In my opinion, in South Dakota, seed treatments are a vital risk management tool. Cutting out seed treatment as a cost reduction strategy is a poor risk management decision. Pay a few dollars up front and reduce the threat that could end up costing 3 to 4 times the investment. The number of service calls I make since the widespread use of seed treatments, is a fraction of what it was before. There is no way to effectively recover from poor emergence. It has to be planted right; you can’t go back in time and fix that.

Although rough times in production agriculture might be ahead I have some good news! Breathe easier – seed treatments for soybeans are available and will protect your considerable investment! We already know that we are going to take a hit on the soybean commodity prices, so don’t also take a hit on the yield by skipping your seed treatment protocol.

Image Credit: John H Kleschinsky