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Farmers –
The Eternal Optimists

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Recap: Farmers –
The Eternal Optimists


Fred Collins
AgCrop Consulting
Pineville, La.

Crops will be good this season. Spoken like eternal optimists, farmers in central Louisiana, recovering from their worst season in memory, are sharpening their pencils to determine the best mix of crops to plant. Cotton acres in the state are projected to be the lowest in a generation as $9 beans are stealing acres away. However, stricter moisture rules at elevators and fear of aflatoxin in corn are keeping cotton in the mix. This winter a farmer told me about his planned cotton acres for the spring. “The gins want the cotton; the warehouses will pay a rebate to store it; and the Cotton Council is doing all it can to support and market our cotton. Plus, there are no expensive trucking fees to move cotton off your farm.” There are cotton farmers who are planting cotton for these reasons. This may keep their gins open, but profitability is essential.

Profit margins will likely be meager compared to last year’s potential profits from all-time-high commodity prices. However, high prices did not matter when 70 mph winds and 15 inches of rain washed away our crops. This year, we must reach back to management techniques used to make profits when we received only loan price and a few cents of equity. Be diligent. Do your homework. Get some experience with the new Flex, Bollgard II or WideStrike varieties – the genetics from which we will be choosing in the future. One has to wonder if it was a smart move to phase out 555 during a time of declining markets. I am confident that high-yielding varieties will be available as replacements, but it will take a transition period to find the best fit for growers’ farms.

Apply herbicides with differing modes of action to minimize the threat of glyphosate-resistant weeds. Study field soil samples and apply the amount of fertilizer that your crop needs. Weigh the cost/benefit of seed treatments and consider alternatives when appropriate. Monitor insect populations weekly. Finally, do some secret Mojo to give it your personal touch of optimism. New varieties, precision ag, new chemistries, excitement about biofuels and tighter regulations from government and banking are major factors that will require attention and influence our success. If Mother Nature smiles on us, and we can implement management tools correctly, our optimism will not be in vain.



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