Shift Happens

Has everything we knew about our business and the world-at-large shifted? Based upon what experts are saying and I’ve heard first-hand, I think the answer is yes.

At a recent industry meeting, Jay Vroom, CEO/president of CropLife America, uttered the following observation: “After the election of 2008, we knew we were in for change. But none of us expected what happened these last 18 to 20 months.”

The facts concur. While compiling information for this month’s CropLife®, I spent many hours chatting with friends in the retail, production and equipment channels. Given that most economic gurus have said the Great Recession is over and the high crop input prices that virtually shut down application work during late 2008 and early 2009 are a thing of the past, I fully expected to hear that the ag retail world was “back to normal.” This would translate into higher crop input sales, more application work being done and a general sense of relief being sighed by everyone.

To be truthful, I’ve heard plenty of sighs. However, most of these were ones of confusion rather than relief. As you will read in the story Climbing Back, the overall mood for fertilizer is positive, but retailers are still trying to figure out how to hedge their risks when it comes to keeping products in inventory. This has made just-in-time delivery to grower-customers the new standard.

“I’ve been looking for signs that the marketplace is getting back to normal. So far, I haven’t seen that normal side yet,” said one Midwestern retailer.

A similar shift seems to be taking place in crop protection. Once upon a time, some were predicting a permanent end to the problem of yield-sapping weeds. The combination of glyphosate and glyphosate-resistant crops would conquer all, said the experts.

But Mother Nature has proved to be a more resilient engineer of weeds than mankind could have ever imagined. Today, there are almost one dozen varieties of glyphosate-resistant weeds. More are certain to appear. I was told by one crop production representative at a recent meeting that in some Southern cotton fields last year, resistant Palmer pigweed had become such a problem to control that approximately 70% of these fields had to be weeded by hand. “This puts us back using production methods that were employed in the 1970s,” said the representative.

Also, although the recession is over and companies are again making money, they aren’t investing it in workers. Reportedly, the nation’s top companies are sitting on $837 billion in cash reserves. This amount could employ 2.4 million workers at $70,000 annual salaries for five years.

This all seems to indicate that a major shift has happened in our world. The fact that fertilizer bins are not filled to capacity before the season starts and growers are being forced to hand weed entering the second decade of the 21st century do seem like some pretty significant shifts. Given these facts, I would stay tuned for even more shifts to happen ahead …

Leave a Reply

Latest News
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: Dicamba Update and InfoAg Preview
July 21, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss reports from the field and comments from Monsanto about dicamba drift this season, Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect: Grand Grounds, Posters Parade
July 19, 2017
To celebrate their accomplishments in the area of environmental stewardship, award recipients at the 2017 Environmental Respect week spent much Read More
StewardshipHarden’s Message to ERA Winners: Do Tell Your Good Stor…
July 19, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance the Read More
StewardshipFarming Smarter Hinges on 4R Best Management Practices
July 18, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an Americ…
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
TMX-2050-In-Cab-Display-Launch-Run-Screen
EquipmentGPS Auto Steer: Innovating in a Mature Market
July 17, 2017
In the world of Big IRON, GPS auto steer has closely mirrored the evolutionary path of consumer GPS Navigation systems Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
SERA-meeting
Stewardship4R Event Explores How to Minimize Phosphorus Losses
July 17, 2017
This year the Southern Extension and Research Activity (SERA) – 17; will be meeting in Oregon, OH, from August 14-17. Read More
Students Soybean Field
StewardshipCCA 4R Study Guide Available
July 17, 2017
In June the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) released the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) 4R Nutrient Management Specialist (4R NMS) Read More
Soil soybean closeup
FertilizerThe 4Rs and Potassium
July 17, 2017
Are we meeting crop K needs? Using the 4R nutrient stewardship approach of selecting the right source at the right Read More
Soil Young Corn
StewardshipTop 10 Themes from the 2017 4R Nutrient Stewardship Sum…
July 17, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
Crop InputsWhich is Better for Soybeans: Fall or Spring Applicatio…
July 17, 2017
There have been many questions about fall versus spring applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to soybeans, writes Dr. T. Read More
corn-potassium-deficiency-University-of-Minnesota-Extension
Crop InputsRecognizing Potassium Deficiency Symptoms in Crops
July 17, 2017
Some crops exhibit characteristic deficiency symptoms when adequate amounts of K are not available for growth and development, according to Read More
ManagementComplexity in Agriculture: The Rise (and Fall?) of Mons…
July 17, 2017
Sometimes it seems as if the ag world is changing so fast that we can barely keep up with it Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: Illegal, Improper Use at Root of Drift Proble…
July 14, 2017
Monsanto isn’t backing down from the position that its tool — the Roundup Ready Xtend dicamba-tolerant system for soybeans and Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application…
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More