The year isn’t even over yet but planning for the 2015 crop year is already underway. You can see it by browsing over a list of all the schools and meetings coming over the next few weeks and months. Meetings are conducted by K-State, other public entities like the FSA and NRCS, local agribusiness, larger agriculture companies, and various producer groups. The purpose is to review what was learned over the last year, discover what is new on the horizon, receive continuing education for various licenses, and plan for the next year. Here let’s take it a bit more local and discuss what area producers are or should be thinking about now for 2015.
• What to plant where. For producers with well-established crop rotations this isn’t a major decision. However, for all producers, more goes into deciding what crops to plant and the acreage devoted to each crop than many might think. Projected crop prices and input costs are a major factor. Kansas has seen this over the fall as wheat prices, and soil moisture, made wheat relatively attracted compared to corn and grain sorghum. What else goes into this decision?
• 2015 weather – Producers pay attention to long-term forecasting as to what weather patterns the experts think will occur. Will the El Nino forecasted occur? If it does, dryland corn and soybeans are more attractive for many than grain sorghum. If not, what crops will maximize income moisture limited conditions?
• Weed and herbicide history – Does a field have Roundup® resistant weeds? Are there resistance issues with other chemistries? What is the weed pressure and history of the field? Have herbicides been used that restrict rotations or limit hybrid/variety choices? Based on previous years’ choices, does the producer need to change up modes of action to limit the potential for resistance? What new herbicides may be effective options?
• New technologies – New traits are being released continually addressing issues from drought and heat tolerance to insect resistance and new herbicide technologies. Do these traits apply to a producers operation? Does the benefit justify the cost of the new technology? If so, is the trait in hybrids and varieties fitting the climate and soils?
• Hybrid/variety selection – Once cropping selections have been made, the next step is selecting the appropriate hybrid or variety. How did what was planted do this year or even over the last several years for an operation or even the neighbors? This requires a thorough examination of seed company data, public variety testing, and speaking with seed dealers. What cultivars are best adapted to an operation based on climate, soil type, soil chemistry, pest pressure, and irrigation if available?
• Soil chemical environment – What soil testing should be conducted and when? How acid are the soils? Do soils need liming and how soon can it be done? When should fertilizers be applied and using what method?
• Equipment – What upgrades to an operation’s equipment are needed? How much will it cost? What maintenance and repairs need done before the start of the season? Are there technologies saving time and money over the long-run
Even for producers with a great crop consultant, a producer still has to make the final decisions.