The slush is melting, creating muddy wallows alongside sidewalks. Grass is slowly turning from a sickly, soggy brown to a resilient green. The midwest is shaking off the white blanket of a fairly brutal winter. The end of winter brings many things to Illinois. Birds are coming back from their southern sanctuaries, baseball teams are getting into spring training. The sunshine is actually warm!
These things are all well and good, but there’s a lot more meaning to spring than just the aesthetic value of birds or the distant approach of MLB (us Illinois folk do like our sports!). It means that farmers are approaching the final stages of pre-planting preparation. Economic understanding and strategy are musts right now.
Alan Miller, Bruce Erickson, and Craig Dobbins are economists who work at Purdue University. If you know Purdue, or farming, you know it’s a good school for agriculture. So, when these gentleman from Purdue say that the costs related to commodity growing will be lower in 2010, I’m inclined to believe them.
These guys know money, and farming. Their statements show that in 2009, producers may have spent an average of $200 (or more) per acre on fertilizer products. In 2010, they believe that the realistic range is closer to an average of $100-$130 an acre. These numbers are just projects, of course. Every field is different and every acre has its own unique necessities.
I’m sure any farmer that’s read their report or seen this blog hopes that they’re right.
The use of GPS is also going to influence the way this year’s growing season goes. Detailed GPS readings can help farmers adjust their land use and treatment to fit each individual area. Many of these systems are precise, reading down to within feet or even inches of exact points. This GPS technology has come a long way, and continues to be more incorporated more heavily into farm practices each year.
Another thing in the back of farmer’s minds at the start of this growing season is it’s finish. Will this year be anything like last year? The timing of the rain and the early onset of snow in 2009 left record amounts of corn sitting in the fields. For many farmers, this may influence the way they plan.
This time of year, the men and women of the corn industry ar buckling down for planting season. Spring is an exciting time for most people (there’s so much to look forward to!) but it holds much more weight in the lives of America’s grain farmers. As you enjoy the March sunshine and wade through the puddles on the sidewalks from melting snow, think about the farmers. Think about how their livelihood rests on the weather this time of year. Think of the extra hours put in to make sure there’s enough grain grown to meet the ever-increasing demand.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it: thank a farmer. To you, spring is the end of winter. To them, it’s the start of another cycle of floods, droughts, fair weather, finances, and faith.