For Custom Application, 2020 Provided ‘Perfect Vision’

After the 2019 growing season was finished, many custom applicators across the country probably shook their heads in satisfaction. Despite the myriad challenges presented with sometimes problematic dicamba work and more than 19 million acres of farmland not getting planted (or applied, consequently), things just had to improve during 2020, didn’t they?


Among the nation’s top ag retailers, the answer to this question was a resounding “yes.”

Custom Application Clear ChoiceAccording to data collected in the 2020 CropLife 100 survey, ag retailers this year saw their custom application sales move forward in a big way this year. Overall, the category sales jumped 17.6%, up from $1.7 billion in 2019 to $2 billion. In addition, market share for the custom application category improved from 5% in 2019 to 6%.

Planted Acres Return

As for why the custom application category performed so well for CropLife 100 ag retailers during 2020, most respondents pointed directly to the recovery of so-called prevent plant acreage leftover from the 2019 growing season. Indeed, last year, due to persistent wet and cool weather throughout much of the spring 2019 planting season, approximately 19 million acres of cropland never ended up being planted.

But according to most observers, more agreeable weather conditions during 2020 meant approximately 90% to 95% of the prevent plant acres from 2019 were able to be planted. And to prepare many of these fields for crops, application work was performed on them, which helped boost ag retail revenues in this area.

“We planted the entire crop year vs. 90% in 2019,” said Dennis Halbach, Vice President of Agronomy for Country Visions Cooperative, Reedsville, WI, on his company’s CropLife 100 form.