Inputs Lesson Plan

The top input tool of 2007 may have been simply a sharp pencil. With grower-customers giddily anticipating the possibility of $4 corn and eagerly opening their checkbooks to cash in on the ethanol boom, ag retailers worked at a furious pace to pencil out optimum fertilizer, crop protection, and seed numbers to maximize yields. Can retailers expect more of the same in 2008?

To find out, a mix of large and midsize CropLife 100 dealerships and cooperatives in both the Midwest and South were canvassed — areas where many grower-customers took out soybean, cotton, and wheat acres in favor of corn. In fact, corn acres reached 92.3 million — the most since 1944 and exceeding the 2006 planted area by 19%. These retailers share what they experienced and learned this season, and how they’ll use that information in the upcoming season.

Happy Cash Cows

Not surprisingly, that increase in nitrogen-greedy corn acres translated into higher fertilizer sales for the majority of these dealerships, including Van Horn, Inc. and Myers, Inc. in corn-rich Illinois. Sales of the basic three — nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium — were up across the board for Cerro Verdo-based Van Horn, whose growers planted 10% to 12% more corn and purchased more triple stack trait hybrids because of corn rootworm concerns. “Growers weren’t skimping on their applications,” says Dan Mogged, vice president. The additional corn acres boosted UAN and anhydrous ammonia (NH3) sales by close to 25%, according to Denny Myers, president of Myers, Inc. in Lexington.

Further west in Juda, WI, Land­mark Services Cooperative also saw increased nitrogen sales, topped by UAN, which is preferred by the region’s growers over NH3, in part because the grower’s larger planters play to UAN’s strength (a longer application window), says Jim Shelton, agronomy division manager.

Preventive fungicide applications led the charge as many retailers increased crop protection product sales, including Maple Park, IL-based Hintzsche Fertilizer, Inc., which saw a “significant increase in crop protection usage for plant health issues in corn,” says Jeff Eggleston, general manager. The dealership, which saw its growers add 25% more corn acres this year, also increased its grass herbicide business as growers utilized full or nearly full application rates.

To counter reduced postemergence herbicide profits as genetically modified and triple-stack trait hybrid sales went up, Myers, Inc. stressed the use of an atrazine premix in front of glyphosate in a two-pass resistance management program on its corn acres. “That’s where we also offset both our loss of insecticide revenue and the fewer dollars put on with Roundup Ready corn,” says Myers.

Taking Lessons To Heart

Early indications for these retailers are that — despite the growing ethanol demand — their corn acres will level off or even decline slightly in 2008. Combined with the high costs of input inventory, retailers feel pressured to know their grower-customers’ plans as early as possible to not only get the materials, but purchase them at the best prices possible.

“I think with the high demand for corn in 2007, we learned we had to make sure that we had our inputs positioned correctly going into the year, make sure we had things bought early to be able to be in the market and to even have the products,” says Van Horn’s Mogged. He plans to purchase fertilizer early and get growers’ seed commitments in early November to “make sure that we get the varieties that they want,” he says. “We’re trying to really target the soybeans this year to get them locked in earlier.”

An Easter freeze that forced a replant of 50% to 70% of its corn acres provided some hard lessons for Ritter Crop Services in Marked Tree, AR. “The corn season was tight already, and that just made it worse,” says Ben Branch, warehouse manager. More than half the growers had planted corn for the first time. “Some went back to cotton, but the majority tried to go back with corn. We had a hard time finding chemicals — that didn’t cost $15 or $20 per acre — that would kill the now-volunteer Roundup Ready corn.”

“We need to do a better job of sourcing our seed early and getting our hands on it,” adds Dan Kennedy, Rit­ter’s general manager.

“We have to communicate with our growers, because inventory is too expensive to overbuy or underbuy,” says Myers, who hopes to meet with each of his growers by mid-January. “You have to be on top of things, and fine-tune your buying by the end of January.”

Landmark Services’ Shelton says his growers’ 20% increase in corn acres in 2007 may drop by 5% in 2008, “but if you get a good uptick in the corn market in March, they could jump back in from beans to all corn. So it’s just a pretty fluid thing, making it difficult to determine inventory needs. With the crops going out of here perhaps somewhere between 5% and 10% on corn, we just won’t buy it all. We just kind of wait and let it play out until March and see if we have to buy some of the higher priced product.” 

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
FungicidesSudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot Reported In Indiana Soybeans
September 3, 2014
Farmers and retailers should be watching for symptoms of these two diseases over the next few weeks as they are best managed through preventative methods. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
Seed/BiotechDow Details Enlist Trait Stacking Standards
January 30, 2015
Dow says it will allow the Enlist trait to be stacked with advanced glyphosate traits only, and will not allow stacking with the first generation of the Roundup Ready trait. Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: IFCA’s Jean Payne on Illinois wat…
January 30, 2015
Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares insight from the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association conference including a chat with IFCA President Jean Read More
ManagementOABA Conference Set To Highlight Trends, Technology And…
January 29, 2015
The third annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) Industry Conference is set to take place February 4-5. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute President Jahn Testifies Befor…
January 28, 2015
The committee hearing, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce," looked at challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations and infrastructure needs. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue University Acquires Technology For Herbicide Mol…
January 28, 2015
Protea's LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System will be used in Purdue's College of Agriculture, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, for the molecular imaging of herbicide active ingredients and other related compounds to optimize herbicide applications and improve weed management.  Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Peformance Marketing Manager
January 27, 2015
As Marketing Manager for the Crop Performance division, Usman Khalid will work out of H.J. Baker’s global headquarters in Westport, CT, and will drive new initiatives for the division. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More