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A successful harvest begins with planning

10/06/2021
A successful harvest begins with planning

Harvest is the pinnacle of a farmer’s year. The stress of watching crops grow after a tedious planting, spraying season and combined with a few prayers to the all-powerful weatherman for timely rains and plentiful sunlight to bring pleasant yields. As harvest comes near, preparations and planning will ease the lengthy process.

Preparations begin with maintenance

There is much maintenance to be done on equipment in preparation for the most exciting season of farming. Spring planting feels distant as the planters have long been put away. It is easy to forget that many farmers use grain wagons to fill their planters. Before harvest these wagons must be cleaned out, grain facilities will not accept grain with any trace of treated seed. It’s a simple task that will save a large future headache.

Crop expectations can be tricky

As the grains fill out, taking the opportunity to walk through the crop can be an invaluable activity to assess yield potential. Utilize your local trusted advisor to analyze the crop, perform stand counts, identify potential problems and estimate yield potential. Once the grain is harvested, it then needs to be marketed. Having a marketing plan in place before harvest will aid in being more efficient and profitable. Multiply acreage by estimated yield potential to determine total marketable bushels. Break the marketing plan down with a local originator to identify weaknesses and capitalize on resources and current market conditions to make it stronger.

Have any concerns about quality?

Experiencing quality issues can be stressful. Reach out to the local elevator and discuss the discount schedules to ensure understanding and eliminate surprise dockage. Proper combine settings and a pre-harvest burndown can decrease foreign material and improve the quality of grain significantly.

Put it on paper

It’s important to put the marketing plan down on paper to better help visualize its execution. Is there enough storage for the crop? Seasonal charts show that the market highs are in April-July. Where was the average selling price in the past and what would an additional sale do to that average? Contact your local elevator before the grain comes to head and determine what is already on the books and identify whether an additional contract could be made depending on storage needs.

Have a target in mind

Executing a marketing plan at the highest possible price is not much of a marketing plan and can create more stress than profits. First, consider when the bills begin to pile up and place achievable offers that can hit in time to pay for these expenses as they arise. Additionally, the market is a volatile and unpredictable entity. Use an average price as a goal to beat that will help to achieve a higher price every year. It is important to understand that achieving a higher price every year is rather unlikely, but it is a great goal to have.

Where does the grain go?

Finding the nearest elevator is only one way to market grain. If the elevator is nearby its simple to fill a delivered contract. However, there comes a time when the off-farm bid becomes more appropriate. These FOB (Free On Board) bids calculate shipping into the price and get the elevator to look after getting a truck and finding the grain a home. Many farmers prefer to look after shipping and find a delivered bid much simpler. If that’s the case, ensure to contact a local trucker ahead of harvest to determine that they can fill your needs. Harvest season can get crazy and local carriers only have so many trucks, finding the right one can take time.

Think about the years ahead

Consider contracting further ahead. The future markets can be volatile and unforgiving, if the current price for next year proves to be profitable, locking in those profits could save future stress. Additionally, the 22’ crop year will be fast approaching and currently offers attractive values. If you can cover your costs and lock in some profit, depending on your risk tolerance forward contracting could save you much future stress.

There is much to consider for the upcoming harvest to prepare and plan for success. Defining the operation with local experts can help to make dreams become reality. Experts increase accuracy and have an eye for potential issues.

Contact your local Great Lakes Grain representative to help you develop a harvest plan for your operation.

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