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Farmers are weighing the price of fertility in 2022

Higher input prices have XtremeAg farmers Matt Miles, Kelly Garrett, and Kevin Matthews thinking about different crop rotations and fertility plans for 2022. 


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

“To be or not to be” is a famous quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This seems like the scenario we are in today as farmers in my area try to decide if they should grow corn, cotton, or rice. These crops are all high nitrogen users and urea has gone from $400 a ton last year to $1,100 per ton this year. It will cost $180 an acre more in nitrogen to grow corn in 2022 than it did in 2021. That’s not including the increased cost of all the other inputs we use to make our crops grow.

For a Midwest farmer, the rational thinking would be to decrease corn as much as possible and grow all soybeans. Soybeans are at a profitable price with less input risk than corn. But if everyone does this, won’t corn prices rise enough to counter the increased price of nitrogen? If so, should we lock in our price on beans today to protect this decision? Add rice and cotton into the decision-making process and there is no doubt that a farmer’s mind isn’t focusing on Christmas and family this December. Instead, we are running through different scenarios and complex decisions that have to be made very soon.

As of today, I think about the fact that we’ve been successful in sticking to our strategy of making longer range plans instead of chasing what’s in front of us at the moment. Rotation has always been at the top of that list to mitigate risk in disease, fertility, weed management, and diversity. I know we can’t be ignorant of the fact that nitrogen prices are at an all-time high, but we also have to consider other factors and advantages of sticking to the normal plan. We pick up 5- to 10-bushel yield on soybeans behind corn. These are just some thoughts I’ve had this winter while trying to figure out a 2022 plan.

Have a Merry Christmas and catch up on some much-needed rest and relaxation.


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

We are 100% finished with all our anhydrous applications. We purchased all of our anhydrous earlier than usual to avoid supply chain issues. It was a good decision considering that current price is more than double our booking price. 

We are using NZone GL from AgXplore as a nitrogen efficiency product to get the biggest ROI we can get from our nitrogen applications.

We started to haul corn to the local ethanol plant this past week since the basis is very strong.  

Cows in Iowa with grain bins in the background on a December day
Photo credit: XtremeAg

We are also seeing a lot of demand for the liquid by-product we use called Plant Food. We’ve been spraying the soil amendment on a lot of acres this fall, and it’s the first time in five years that we have run out this early in the season. 

We are now in the process of compiling all of the trial data from our XtremeAg partners … A lot of interesting results that we’ll apply to next season’s crop.


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.

Fieldwork is running wide open – we are as dry in December as I can remember in a long time. A rainy day is needed for the small grain and, most importantly, I need to get office work done while not thinking of the fieldwork that’s happening with the nice warm sunshine. 

Two tractors working on field prep in December in North Carolina
Photo credit: XtremeAg

Our soil samples have come in and lime is being spread by Wake Stone out of North Myrtle Beach. It’s a very high-calcium product that benefits our Piedmont soils and spreads great. It is often the case that the most inexpensive lime source turns out to be not the most beneficial for the soil. 

We are closing in on the halfway mark in spreading our chicken litter. The fertilizer prices are really weighing heavy on our decision on whether to plant more corn or soybeans in 2022. 

We’re rolling up all of our trial results and data of the products we tested for XtremeAg partners this season. We tested over 50 products on our farm. Many of them I’ve used for some time while others I had never heard of until this year. We will need the data to help manage the price of fertility.

Christmas tree on top of a grain elevator at night in North Carolina
Photo credit: XtremeAg

Over the Thanksgiving holiday we took time to showcase the Christmas season with some new lights on the Taylor Road elevator Christmas Tree. Perched 130 feet in the air, it can be seen far and wide. The neighbors really enjoy the beauty, but a lot of them have no idea that it is on top of the elevator.

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