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

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
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More

Trending Articles

Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. 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
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More

Latest News

FertilizerFertilizer Outlook And Technology Conference Set For No…
September 30, 2014
Conference participants can expect to gain perspective on the outlook for agriculture and major fertilizer materials and inputs from industry experts. Read More
MicronutrientsVerdesian Acquires Micronutrient Supplier
September 30, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has acquired QC Corp., a producer and supplier of granular and dry micronutrients and ferrous sulfate products. Read More
Eric SfiligojHearing From Young Ag Voices
September 30, 2014
Potential future leaders in ag retail had the chance to shine at the recent Mid America CropLife Association meeting. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
September 30, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Appoints New Chief Operating Officer
September 29, 2014
Jon Parr will succeed retiring COO John Atkin at the end of the year. Read More
CropLife 100South Dakota Wheat Growers To Add Grain-Agronomy Facili…
September 26, 2014
Planned to be constructed in Kennebec, the facility will be located along the soon-to-be rehabilitated line of heavy-rail service from Chamberlain to Presho. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Vice President Appointments
September 25, 2014
Two individuals have been appointed Vice President positions on the GROWMARK executive team. Read More
FertilizerFertilizer Industry Organizations Join Global Alliance …
September 25, 2014
The Fertilizer Institute, the International Plant Nutrition Institute and the International Fertilizer Industry Association are encouraging the industry to promote the proper use of fertilizer products to minimize their environmental impact. Read More
Precision AgARA Organized Precision Forum Hits Capitol Hill
September 24, 2014
The Coalition for the Advancement of Precision Agriculture (CAPA) hosted its inaugural Precision Ag Forum, Sept. 18, in Washington, D.C. Read More
FertilizerFactors To Consider When Placing Fertilizer With Seed
September 24, 2014
The type of crop, fertilizer source, row spacing and soil environment all affect how much fertilizer can be safely applied with seed. Read More
FertilizerSidedressing Manure Into Corn Has Promising Results
September 24, 2014
Applying manure to growing crops can boost yields, reduce nutrient losses and give livestock producers another window of time to apply manure to farm fields. Read More
FertilizerWhen To Sample Manure For Analysis
September 24, 2014
Because the goal is to collect a sample that represents the manure actually being applied, the best time to sample is during loading or field application. Here's why. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Faces Second Lawsuit Over Agrisure Viptera Cor…
September 23, 2014
A second company has sued Syngenta AG over sales of genetically modified corn seed not approved by China. Read More
StewardshipCover Crops Field Guide For Farmers Expanded
September 23, 2014
Farmers interested in planting cover crops to improve soil health now have an updated and expanded resource in the second edition of the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide. Read More
HerbicidesArysta LifeScience Launches Contest For Wheat Growers
September 23, 2014
The Flush after Flush Photo Finish contest encourages farmers across the U.S. to participate through Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #FlushAfterFlush. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Confirms Merger Of Equals Discussions Wit…
September 23, 2014
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. has confirmed that it is in preliminary discussions with Yara International regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
StewardshipProgram To Examine Ag-Related Practices, Policies To Pr…
September 22, 2014
A panel discussion on October 14 will include a significant discussion on key issues and solutions related to all aspects of harmful algal blooms. Read More
Eric SfiligojIt’s Product Of The Year Voting Season
September 22, 2014
Readers of CropLife IRON will choose 2014’s best new product over the next month. Read More