Getting the Right Varieties for Loess Soil

Things are going well here. We are bailing stalks for our cow herd operation. We’ve only got about 250 bales to go, so it’s not too bad. The amount we have should put us through the fall, so we’re set.

On the farm, we’ve calved a bunch of calves, and we have another round in April. And for the crops, we’re getting seed in tomorrow. We’ve been working with our AgVenture Yield Specialist, Denny Kasperbauer, a little bit lately. We missed the AgVenture University because of weather — it was icing that night, so we didn’t get to go. But Denny informs us about what’s going on, so it all works out. The AVU was about corn varieties that are coming down the pipeline and certain herbicides to maybe stay away from or be very careful with. We also touched base on the different planter speeds and planting methods — and surrounding yourself with moneymakers and money savers in certain ratios. This is an important time of year, because it all comes down to the planter.

Getting the Right Varieties

Denny is really helping us find good seed this year. We might shift gears here with our cow operation and start chopping a bit more corn. So I have to get back with Denny about that and maybe line up a few more acres of silage.

He’s recommending seed that is good on our soil and prevents diseases and insects — all of the above. But the difference is that it has to perform on our unique soils out here. We’re deep soiled, but we wash easily, so we’re in a very minimal till situation. I don’t like to say anymore that we’re no-till, because defining tillage is moving soil from point A to point B. So if you’re no-tilling, you must have grandma out there with a straw and she’s blowing that seed in the ground. If the seed moves soil, you’re still tilling.

The High Price of Fertilizer

Even though it’s been warm, we haven’t been doing much farm work. We’ve been spreading a lot of manure, got our barns cleaned out, and that makes a big difference on our ground.

We’re also trying to line up fertilizer purchases to supplement the manure, but fertilizer prices have been so enormously high, and with corn prices not really being so great, we’ve been delaying that. So we’re just pricing fertilizer now, and thankfully, it hasn’t gone up hardly at all since the last time we tried.

It doesn’t seem right to me that the fertilizer prices are so high with the corn prices as low as they are. But it’s just like when we got spoiled with $7 corn a few years ago, and some people thought it was going to be that way the rest of their lives, and then it got cut in half and they didn’t know what to do. I think the fertilizer companies saw that $1,200 stuff 7–8 years ago and thought “Well, we can cut that in half and still be coming out pretty good.” Well, that’s all the cheaper it ever got was about half that. In fact, what we priced here today was about the $700 mark for anhydrous ammonia. That’s probably the cheapest form of nitrogen there is, and if you put it on 164 pounds (just for easy figuring), it would be about $70 an acre. Last year we bought fertilizer for $590 rather than $700. But the price has actually gone down since last year. We contracted corn last year at $5, and we had contracts yesterday for a whole $4. Commodities are 20 percent lower this year, but fertilizer is almost 20 higher. It makes you sharpen the pencil a lot more.

That’s where the efficiency and the knowledge of AgVenture is critical — the efficiency of what they’re trying to preach is going to pay off more. If you’re going to get a return on it, you’ve got to know how to do it.