Considering seed options
By JOLENE STEVENS
NORTHWEST IOWA – Seed corn dealers and corn producers in a number of northwest Iowa communities are taking advantage of January’s wintery weather stockpiling information for crop management decisions including seed corn purchases.
Joel DeJong, an Iowa State University Extension agronomist, said, “Northwest Iowa producers are taking a calculated risk in their planning as they view tight profit margins.
“It is for all of us a time to realize first and foremost that agriculture has its cycles.
“We’re finding ourselves in one of the down and tough periods, and we’ll be working our way through it.”
In Lyon County, Troy Altena, of Altena Ag Services, in Rock Rapids, said his customers are not unlike those elsewhere struggling with low grain futures and rents that have not lowered, and looking at fine-tuning crop management practices for spring.
“Prices (and) the tightness of farm incomes is what I’m hearing is on farmers’ minds,” Altena said.
Growers are seeking ways to cut costs with the best return, including reducing plant populations, he said. They are not changing plans by going for earlier-than-normal planting.
Scott Staum, sales manager for Central Valley Ag Cooperative, in Le Mars, Hinton, Oyens and Akron, said, “What I’m seeing is that there still appears to be a lot of indecision out there before the crop is put in the ground.
“While not perhaps going to an earlier-than-usual hybrid they are taking a strong look at the fully smart-stacked varieties in their hope of maximizing potential yields by producing as many bushels as possible,” he said. “They’re aware, too, of potential new weed control management as weed treatment resistance increases.”
Elsewhere in northwest Iowa, Ed Sand, sales manager for Sands of Iowa, in Marcus, said most of his customers have already committed to planting early- to mid-group corn hybrids and he does not anticipate customers changing to earlier maturities than what they have already been planting.
These include Genuity Smart Stax hybrids which in his area are DKC53-56 and DKC54-38, and Double Stack hybrids DK53-58 and DKC54-40.
“Despite all the obstacles of the past year,” Sand said, “Mother Nature blessed us. 2015 still saw most northwest Iowa producers coming up with high yields.
“This season, with the low commodity prices along with the prevalence of corn diseases (northern corn leaf blight and Goss’ wilt) and insects (corn root worm), sees farmers watching the bottom line much closer for all crop inputs.”
Farmers’ largest concern, Sand said, is managing costly inputs as lower futures prices “stare them in the face.
“The big take away message here from producers, realizing they are in a volatile business, is that they just want a fair shake and to not be taken advantage of.
“Farmers expected and needed their crop inputs to decline, and in most cases, land rents to also come down.”
Sand said that in most instances, major fertilizer and chemical suppliers, along with seed companies, have lowered prices for 2016 planting.
“Now, after sharpening their pencils on land rent and needed inputs, farmer conversations have turned to those on seed placement,” Sand said. “It’s a situation where they realize the need to trim the input costs and at the same time don’t want to sacrifice yields.”
This scenario he said provides producers opportunity to hone-in on what he calls “individual farm deficiencies.”
He said additional management on corn-on-corn acres may include traits to get above- and below-ground-protection.
“With the soil water reserves substantially benefiting crops during the 2015 growing season,” Sand said, “a little lower input cost, and continued good growing conditions, I am optimistic for another good year for Iowa farmers, including those in northwest Iowa.
“Pricing grain on an occasional spike in the commodity prices would be an added plus,” he said.
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