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Pre-Season Planning Pays Off

cc_Jack_RoyalJack Royal

Royal Agricultural Consulting Co., Inc.
Leary, Ga.

The 2012 crop is now behind us. We had great corn yields, super peanut yields (Georgia may have set a new record for pounds per acre.), and cotton yields turned out much better than we had first thought. The August rains, which caused boll rot, were followed by a warm September and October, so a good top crop was made in cotton. The majority of producers averaged three bales or better.

As my farmers and I start preparing for the upcoming crop year, it is hard to believe that I am beginning my 36th year as a crop consultant. In looking to the 2013 season, following are some observations about how farmers in this area may decide to allocate their crop mix.

Corn acres will definitely increase, but no more than we can adequately irrigate. Our irrigation supply comes from wells, where possible, and surface water (ponds, creeks and rivers), which is still very low. Peanut acres are anybody’s guess. With such a big 2012 crop and reports that shellers have a 17-month supply, my opinion is that acres could be down by 50 percent. I believe shellers will have to offer a $500-525 per-ton contract to get any peanuts planted, and, as of yet, that hasn’t happened. Soybeans may take some of the peanut acres. Cotton acres could be down, but with corn just being planted where adequate irrigation can be applied, it appears that cotton acres may only be reduced slightly.

Irrigated And Dryland Acres

One reason that we were all worried about the post-555 era was that our yields could decline since 555 wasn’t available. But with several of the new varieties that have become available, yields have actually increased since the 555 era. We will continue to evaluate new varieties in the field to see which ones have the best fit for our irrigated and dryland acres.

When making variety decisions for our irrigated ground, we always consider the yield potential, soil type and whether the variety is suited for our area. The biggest factor for dryland would be the yield potential for a dryland situation. We also look at which variety can take the most drought stress, and, if it turns off dry early, will the variety have the ability to come back and make a cotton crop?

Proactive Weed Control Strategy

There is still a fairly good profit in cotton with December 2013 cotton staying between 79 and 80 cents, and producers averaging from 1,300 to 1,600 pounds per acre.

Probably our biggest expense in cotton, besides the tech fees, is our increased herbicide cost to fight glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth. Although my farmers never actually left the residuals, we are making a few more herbicide applications to stay on the offense and not get behind. These producers know what they have to do, and they want a clean crop, so they are budgeting for this kind of herbicide regime.