Dodging the weather and increasing input costs

Increasing input prices and erratic weather are driving the decisions that XtremeAg’s Matt Miles, Kevin Matthews, and Kelly Garrett are making this spring.

Matt Miles - MgGehee, Arkansas

Matt is a fourth-generation farmer in southeast Arkansas who grows corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton.

As I write this update we are still waiting on dry weather. The last time we had planters in the field was six days ago with rain coming in about the time it dries up every few days. The rain is worrying us a little bit, but we are looking at 32°F. lows forecast for the first part of April. This is probably more of a concern for us as we have both corn and beans emerged. But how do you plan for a 32°F. night in April in the Delta? That’s not the normal weather for our area, but in farming, nothing seems even close to normal anymore.

We have an outstanding start on our corn and beans. We are 85% planted on corn and 17% planted on beans. We just need to put together some dry days to get finished up. We will also start planting rice and cotton very soon.

Kevin Matthews - East Bend, North Carolina

Kevin and his wife, Cindy, own and operate Matthews Family Farms of North Carolina, Inc., Precision Nutrient Management, Inc., and Deep Creek Grain, Inc. in East Bend and Yadkinville.

You can tell that grain prices are rising because the mail is full of advertisements from all kinds of companies making promising yield increases with their products. Seems like I just need to use every one of these products and that 5- to 20-bpa yield boost will come easy, right?

Of course not, but that is where we are going to have some fun this year since we’ll run XtremeAg trials on some of these so-called “miracle” products and see which ones are the real yield-gainers – and which ones are are just good ol’ snake oil.

Rain in the last week of March was nearly 4 inches, stopping all spraying and spreading applications. Early planting has pretty much not been a possibility, which turned out to be a good thing considering we had a few days last week with low temperatures dipping into the 20s, certainly not ideal for young crops.

Map of North Carolina precipitation
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

We are seeing a few fields of barley and wheat with a flag leaf. We certainly will have damage, but fortunately, our wheat is not that far along yet. We will put 25 pounds of nitrogen and some Sweet Success from Concept Agri-Tek on this week while spraying burndown on corn and soybean land with the other sprayer.

Hopefully, we will finish getting tile put in from Advanced Drainage Systems and possibly get some soybeans planted by the end of the week, if the weather permits. The next couple of weeks are not looking good for fieldwork with more rain forecast. It is starting to get very stressful having to dodge the wet weather this much so early in the season. If there is one thing we know for sure, it’s that you can’t plant in wet ground and expect to reach above-average yields.

Most of our test plots have now been settled and discussions with XtremeAg partners about vegetation applications of fungicides, foliar fertilizers, and other stress-relieving components are ongoing. At XtremeAg we have some cool research that will be a huge benefit to our members and our operations.

With our soybeans, we pay attention to variety, maturity, and plant dates especially with wet weather coming. Switching from group 4 to group 3 soybeans may allow more sunlight during the reproductive stage. We’ll share more about our decision-making process on XtremeAg.farm.

With all this work to do, help is tough to find, and we currently are looking for truck drivers and knowledgeable agriculture equipment operators.

Kelly Garrett - Arion, Iowa

A fifth-generation farmer, Kelly Garrett farms corn, soybeans, and winter wheat in western Iowa.

Kelly Garrett applying plant food
Photo credit: Xtreme Ag

Due to high fertilizer prices, we are applying more of our plant food soil amendment product this spring. This 500 gallons of plant food has an analysis of 14-105-24-105S and is applied for $65 an acre. It also contains 170 pounds of organic carbon. We have seen huge yield benefits from this product in soils with a high base saturation of calcium and magnesium. Manure from our cattle lot is also being hauled and spread on our fields.

Manure spreading on an Iowa farm with three John Deere tractors
Photo credit: Xtreme Ag

In the next few days, we will begin planting soybeans. We will start with 1.1 and 1.3 relative maturities from Hefty Seed Company. On these beans, we are treating them with Flo Rite and Obvius Plus from BASF.

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