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Soaking up sun & commodity insights in Tampa

Western Minnesota farmers Dave and Gerald Revier, having been able to finish up their work yesterday, booked a last-minute flight to Tampa, Florida to attend the Commodity Classic, joining some 4700 growers for the annual convention.

This morning, as the show was getting underway inside the convention center, the Reviers were sunning themselves and still waking up after a short night. The last plane out of Minnesota put them into Tampa at two in the morning.


“I think the corn market is the commodity to beat this year," says Dave Revier (left), a western Minnesota farmer who's in Tampa, Florida, for the 2011 Commodity Classic with his father, Gerald (right) this week (photos by John Walter).

The crop year ahead is on their minds as they take a break from winter work. The Reviers grow a wide mix of crops, along with corn and soybeans, including sweet corn, peas, navy beans and sugar beets. Dave also operates a cow-calf herd and beef feedlot.

Corn looks golden this year, Dave says. “I think the corn market is the commodity to beat this year.”

According to a new poll on, farmers are about evenly divided on their top goal for the 2011 crop year. For Dave Revier, better marketing will be the first priority. “We came down here to have a little fun, to sit in on some good meetings, and learn a little more about marketing,” he said.

The volatility in commodity prices will be a “major factor” this year, too,  he says. Inputs are to be watched as well, he says. “These input costs have skyrocketed. Commodity prices have taken off, but the inputs costs have followed along, too.”

Technology is another focal point for farmers turning to a new crop season. Dave is using a new Android smartphone to manage the farm on the go. It takes the place of a windows-based system that he now leaves in the planting tractor to run a GPS system.

“I like the Android a lot,” he says. “It can do anything the laptop can do. It’s a mini-computer.”


Between morning meetings at the commodity convention, Gary Keller, a north-central Iowa grower, was in the hallway checking crop prices, weather, and e-mail on his Blackberry. Keller uses the smartphone to keep himself informed not only of markets and weather,but also on what’s happening in farmer forums on various websites, including

His 2011 focus also will include an emphasis on marketing. “This volatility in the markets offers great potential for rewards,” he said. He’ll look to boost yields as well, admitting that while he’s not the first to adopt new technology, he’ll use proven practices to move forward.

Latest change for Keller has been on the weed control front. Increased weed resistance cropping up in his fields have forced him to look at alternatives to Roundup, he says.

Precision ag has proven itself, he says. “We’ve fully embraced GPS, auto-steering and yield mapping,” he says.

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Scott Shellady, XFA Brokerage trader, talks to Successful Farming Executive Editor, John Walter at Commodity Classic in Tampa, Florida.


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