How to End 2020 Strong: Advice from a Leading Agronomist and Economist

As part of our COVID-19 roundtable series, moderator Vance Crowe, host of the Vance Crowe Podcast, recently spoke with leading farm management economist Dr. Gary Schnitkey and veteran Pioneer agronomist Matt Essick about how to chase yield while maintaining profitability.

As he wrapped up the discussion, Vance asked both panelists to provide their best advice for what farmers can do to finish out the year strong and set themselves up well for 2021. With their diverse backgrounds, both panelists offered pragmatic advice that farmers can implement immediately.

  1. Spend the End of 2020 in the Field — “Go spend time in your fields and really ask yourself ‘what am I missing this year that could have led to higher yields’? And start evaluating and asking ‘what did I maybe overspend on, and where can I think about reducing my input costs a little bit next year?’”
  2. Think Higher Moisture Corn — “I don’t like harvesting dry corn, so I’m going to try to be in that 20 to 24 percent moisture range. I know it costs money to dry that corn, but I’ve seen time and time again where there’s a strong return on investment because you’re timing things right and your machine operates more efficiently.”
  3. Pull Soil Samples — “If you haven’t been pulling soil samples, I’d take a strong look at that this fall to make sure that you understand where your fertility levels are and what you need to adjust to set yourself up for success for next year.”
  4. Find Out Your Field-Level Profitability — “We have a lot of tools at our disposal these days to evaluate profitability on an acre-level basis, or at least a field-level basis. I would encourage you to start taking a look at those if you haven’t in the past.”
  1. Find out Field-Level ROI — “I agree with Matt. Look at your fields and make the decisions on ROI that we have to make on those fields to get the yield we need this year.”
  2. Take Advantage of Federal Programs — “Get in line with the federal programs that exist this year to help farmers. Between CFAP, PPP, WHIP +, and EIDL, you’ve got to make sure you’re tapping into those.”
  3. Think Realistically about 2021 — “Begin doing budgets for 2021 in a clear-eyed fashion with $3.20 corn and $8.50 soybeans for our prices and come to terms with what that’s going to mean for your operation going into 2021. Agriculture will continue to be a strong industry going forward, but we have a couple rough spots to go through first.”

To listen to the whole recording of the conversation, check out the Granular YouTube Channel. And if you’re looking for a free tool to quickly view your profitability field-by-field, check out Granular Insights to generate a straightforward profit map in minutes.

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For our last COVID-19 roundtable, don’t miss Vance Crowe join with marketing experts Angie Setzer and Tommy Grisafi to share tips on how to market in uncertain times. Seats are limited, so save your spot for the September 3 discussion here.

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