More Bushels Means Lower Cost

We’re just getting our cropping plan started for 2015. We’re not making any major adjustments for next year — no big crop switches. While I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the market, I can’t see any economic reason to be planting corn on corn. So we’re pretty much going to rotate everything out.

As far as corn prices go, everybody’s concerned. Who knows how far down we’re going? And input prices aren’t going down that much. We’re going to have to start doing more with less. You can’t cut fertilizer; you can’t cut your chemical program; you can’t cut your seed program. So you’ll have to start placing fertilizer more carefully to use a little less and start tightening your belt a little.

That’s a big part of why the Maximum Profit System is so important. We all knew the gravy days wouldn’t last forever. That’s why before this year we bought a strip till rig with a dry fertilizer applicator on it — so we can start putting a concentrated amount of fertilizer right behind the row and be able to drop it back a little bit versus broadcast spreading. So that’s a very well accepted practice to reduce your tonnage, but not the effect of your fertilizer.

“It’s a Bushels Game”

You need to save as much money as you can, yes, but there’s only so much you can cut. You have to raise more bushels to lower your cost. And that’s where that MPS system comes in. It’s a bushels game. More bushels divided against your cost is always going to be a lower cost. You have to get more bushels out of what you’re doing.

And that message better be resonating with growers over the next few years. What are things we can do to raise more bushels that don’t cost anything? For example, just slowing down the planter helps you pick up bushels. It doesn’t cost you anything — just a hair more fuel and a hair more time. That’s something that anybody can do to raise more bushels and drive down costs.

“Farmers are their own worst enemies”

Those of us that are following MPS strategies, you can really see who’s trying. You can tell the fields that have plenty of fertilizer or have been scouted for stresses. If you’re not careful in your management practices, those issues are showing up this year. There’s a lot of nutrient deficiency and disease showing up. It’s been cool and damp — not a good year if you didn’t spray fungicide. All this is evident if you didn’t follow the MPS.

The plant-it-and-forget it thing, if that’s what you’re doing, you’re fooling yourself. But that’s what 70 percent of farmers today are doing. I think farmers are their own worst enemies when they have this mindset that they can’t break their yield barriers.

For instance, I think I’ve got a legitimate shot of breaking into the triple digits on some of my high management beans this year — but it’s a lot of work. But what’s funny is that what I’m doing doesn’t cost that much more than what other farmers are doing. I’m just doing it differently. I’m doing it better. MPS takes a lot of management and scouting. It means taking care of your plants, scouting them, feeding them right and giving them what they need when they need it. That’s MPS.