While it is hard to focus on anything but the remainder of spring’s work and just trying to get through one day and on to the next, it is important to keep your eye on the next few months. Thinking ahead about the crop you are putting in the ground now and the crop you will be putting in next year are vital to smart long-range planning. Here is some insight on a few questions you should be asking now.
“If I am not able to get all my acres seeded, my season chemical expenditures will be way less than what I anticipated. Should I be buying my 2023 ag chem products now to avoid further price increases?”
No. For two reasons. One: Anticipate ag chem prices to come down. I have written about this in previous column articles and the answer is still the same. Glyphosate and glufosinate are expected to drop in price. We are at the end of the COVID-19 hangover manufacturing crisis in the ag chem world. China is under some COVID pressure now, and many inert ingredients are manufactured in China, but with the spring conditions the way they are across most of our geography, less acres will be planted and sprayed and that will continue to free up supply. Two: Interest costs are no longer at an all time low. Previously, it made a lot of financial sense to borrow to pay years in advance if you were able. Now, not so much. Hopefully, this rise in interest rates is temporary. However, for now, wait until the August/September timeframe (at the earliest) to buy ag chem products for 2023.
“I will not be able to plant all the seed I pre-bought. Should I be saving and buying seed for 2023 before prices rise any further?”
Prices here are expected to rise. Just like everything else in our country, production costs for seed corn are way up. This is the cost to raise the corn, sort it, treat it, bag it, and truck it. It also appears that genetics and trait fees are going up as well. There may be some significant savings to keeping seed corn for next year. Soybean costs, on the other hand, will only be up as much as the soybean commodity price is, so probably $1 to $2 per unit at this point. With seed corn, if a farmer does want to keep it until next year, I strongly recommend finding some cold storage area to keep it in. This may be impractical. However, if seed is stored at 50 degrees and 50% humidity over the summer, the germination scores typically remain almost identical. You do not have to keep corn in cold storage, but it helps maintain germination levels.
“I’m seeding in June. I can probably save a few bucks and ditch the seed treatment, right?”
Absolutely without question a comprehensive seed treatment will continue to be a good investment, on average, for June planting. Think about why planting is delayed. It is all because soils have been too wet. When soils are too wet, that means disease issues will be much more common. Therefore, the fungicide component of your soybean seed treatment is more likely to pay. Plus, excessively wet soils kill native rhizobia bacteria and other beneficial microbes. That means the inoculant component and the other beneficial biologicals will be more likely to pay. The only thing a farmer really loses out on by using a comprehensive seed treatment in late plantings vs. early plantings is the faster emergence component. Sure, beans will pop out of the ground quicker in June than in April, but soybeans planted into wet soils will be under a lot of stress, so I would continue to recommend a robust seed treatment on all soybeans planted anytime this summer. By the way, with high commodity prices the way they are, you only need 1 to 1.5 bushels of gain to make the seed treatment pay.