- Editor's Note -

The Planning Season

By Carroll Smith
Editor

Football season, hunting season, tax season. There really is a season for everything. For farmers, winter time is the planning season.

This year, one of the top priorities for Southern producers is trying to determine what their crop mix will be and how much acreage will be planted to each commodity – corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts, milo and wheat. Most farmers are keeping a close eye on the markets, waiting for the signs that will help them make their decisions.

If you are one of the Southern farmers who has been on “price watch,” be sure to read “Decisive Marketing” by Melvin Brees on page 16. Brees is the market/policy Extension associate at the University of Missouri. He offers some interesting insights to the question, “Should farmers plant more corn or soybeans in 2009?”

Other considerations involved in the crop mix quandary are the costs of fertilizer, seed and fuel. If corn is on your radar this year, check out “Manage Fertility” by Pawel Wiatrak and Jim Camberato on page 20. The correct application of nutrients not only is essential to raising healthy, high-yielding corn but also to get the most bang for your hard-earned buck in these days of high input costs.

Obviously, what you are going to do in 2009 is on the front burner right now, but in some of your planning sessions, taking a look at long-term goals may be of benefit. Think of what you could do to increase the productivity and profitability of your operation three, five or even 10 years down the road. And, if you are a tenant, get your landlord involved in these discussions, too.

Jay Hardwick, who operates a diversified farm near Newellton, La., says he has been thinking along these lines and experimenting with ways to get more units of production from an acre of land. Read about his experience with doublecropped milo and corn in “Extreme Planting” on page 10.

He admits that pushing the envelope on planting dates “is a risk environment that you have to manage very tightly,” but what you learn from the experience is invaluable. To quote the Louisiana farmer, “Keep your eyes wide open and pay attention to the proli-feration of ideas that can come with these endeavors.”

If you have comments, send them to Corn South, 5118 Park Ave., Suite 111, Memphis, Tenn., 38117. You may also call (800) 888-9784 or contact Lia Guthrie at lguthrie@onegrower.com or Carroll Smith at csmith@onegrower.com.