Minnesota Farmer

30 days: Planning for next year after the harvest

This is day 3 of the 30 day challenge.  Today I’d like to tell you a little about the plans for next years crop.

Actually planning for the next year began years ago.  In our area of Minnesota we really have few choices for crops available to us.  There are no nearby processors so sugar beets, sweet corn and peas are out of the question.  Our climate is best for dent corn and soybeans.  We do have a few people who raise some wheat or oats on sandy fields, and we have a neighbor who specializes in growing alfalfa, with all of the crop specific equipment that takes.  Really our location and local markets determine what we raise here.57961_580_360

The real question comes down to how much of each crop to raise.  We have a share crop rental farm where the manager has decided to rotate corn on one field and soybeans on the other.  The fields are not equal, so that has to figure into the mix.  Most of the rest of our fields are in a corn/corn/soybean rotation.  We started doing this a few years ago when the economics of growing corn in our area increased to make soybeans a second crop.  For the best profit per acre we have held that rotation for quite a while now.  But economics are shifting towards soybeans now, and I will have to decide when to shift to the more common corn/soybean rotation.100_2476

The planning now is very important because we need to have a fertilization plan.  There is very little fertilizer applied on soybeans here.  Actually we depend on the decaying corn stubble to supply the fertilizer needed to feed the soybeans.  Knowing where each crop will be planted then allows us to place the manure from our hog barns where it will be used best, with commercial fertilizer to fill in.

Another part of our plan has to be what we have for storage space.  We deliver most of our corn to the local ethanol plant.  They do not have enough storage for everyone to bring their crop in at harvest.  Having on farm storage allows us to take advantage of better prices after harvest.  Our second best market is a local feed mill.  Again they need corn later in the year and only have storage for so much.

For several years we have raised soybean seed for Asgrow.  Each year we have had a higher percentage of our soybean acres going to seed production.  To raise seed beans we need to have smaller storage bins, and the ability to focus more on little details that provide a specialized product.  This has allowed us to make more profit on these acres, but it takes extra work.

I actually sat down this year and planned which field would hold which crop for the next three years.  This plan may change as the economics of our crops changes, but for now we have an outline of what is to come.

With harvest barely done, the rush to get ready for next year is in full swing.  So much to be done, and the time before freeze up is limited.



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