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

Trending Articles

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
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. 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

Latest News

Crop InputsArysta Hires Former Agri-Chem, CPS Employee For Delta S…
October 23, 2014
New Territory Sales Manager Mark Peel’s primary role will focus on working with growers regarding fungicides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Appointments In Plant Food Division
October 22, 2014
GROWMARK, Inc. has announced the three key staff changes in its Plant Food Division. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Appoints New VP Of Finance And Risk Management
October 22, 2014
Wade Mittelstadt has been named GROWMARK Vice President, Financial and Risk Mangement, effective December 1, 2014. Read More
FungicidesEPA Approves BASF In-Furrow Corn Fungicide
October 22, 2014
Field trials show Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides more rapid emergence, extended residual control and improved seedling health than untreated crops. Read More
EquipmentAgraScout App Available At No Cost To Universities
October 21, 2014
AgraScout, a fast and easy to use mobile crop scouting app, is now available at no cost to University students, Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Program To Provide Relief To Farmers Affe…
October 21, 2014
The USDA has implemented a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. Read More
ManagementGreenfield Scholars Program Aims To Sustain Agronomy Wo…
October 21, 2014
The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Read More
Paul SchrimpfPrecision Ag: Taking It To The Hill
October 21, 2014
A new coalition took the good news message of precision agriculture to Washington, DC, last month. Read More
ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million In Small Business Research Gran…
October 21, 2014
The grants will provide high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Terminates Merger Discussions With Yara I…
October 21, 2014
CF Industries Holdings and Yara International have terminated their discussions regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Ranked A Top 10 Biotech Employer For Third tim…
October 20, 2014
Syngenta ranked in the top 10 among the world’s top biotech employers, according to an annual survey conducted by Science magazine. Read More
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Break Ground For New Facility At Kennebec
October 20, 2014
Wheat Growers has broke ground for a state-of-the-art shuttle loader grain handling, fertilizer and agronomy facility in Kennebec, SD. Read More
FertilizerVerdesian Life Sciences Signs Agreement With Los Alamos…
October 20, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a licensing agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop and market LANL’s latest nitrogen enhancement technology for plants. Read More
MicronutrientsStoller Group Announces Groundbreaking At New Office Bu…
October 20, 2014
Jerry Stoller, founder and president of Stoller Group, announced the groundbreaking at the site of the company’s future headquarters in Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Opens New Production Facility In Nevada
October 20, 2014
BioSafe Systems has completed construction of a state-of-art production facility in Sparks, NV, for its line of activated peroxygen products. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScien…
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
Seed/BiotechEPA Approves Dow’s Enlist Duo Herbicide
October 15, 2014
The Enlist Weed Control System, breakthrough technology to fight resistant and tough weeds, has received the long-awaited green light from federal regulatory authorities. Read More
MicronutrientsGypsum On Farms Could Help Keep Water Clean, Not Green
October 14, 2014
Gypsum, which has roots in the past as a farm soil treatment, also may have a bright future, and not just as a booster of crops but also as a protector of water. Read More