By Jonathan Zettler CPA, CMA, CCA-ON and Patrick Lynch CCA-ON
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Coming to the end of crop production for 2023 We will have one more issue this year and then nothing until after the first conferences in mid-January
Crop conditions Corn harvest carries on. A bit lower moisture, more acres off, a bit more DON. Some real bad DON numbers from some fields. In some areas high yields and slow dryers are slowing down harvest. We are doing a harvest survey and will send that to you later this week. Fungicides on corn continue to hear amazing yield differences of 20-40 bu/ac yield differences for sprayed in areas where there was significant disease pressure (tar spot) and probably other diseases.
Things to Do This Week
1. Review your results with DON by hybrid. Record which hybrids had high DON.
2. Plan your corn fungicide plan for 2024. Line up spraying now. If custom spraying, get a commitment from custom sprayer. We didn’t get all the spraying done this year and there will be more acres sprayed next year.
3. Decide which soybean platform you will be using Xtend or Enlist
4. Check out Ontario Corn and Soybean Trials at
5. For corn hybrid trials go to http://www.gocorn.net/
6. For soybean trials go to http://www.gosoy.ca
Rotation, Rotation, How Important Art Thou? (JZ)
With some farmers struggling to get wheat in the ground this fall and lower wheat prices, a few are asking how important is it to have a cereal crop in the rotation? A few thoughts.
Soils at Guelph has a few factsheets on the benefits of wheat in the rotation. You can access them at the following links. The quick and dirty is that having wheat in the rotation is 15% or more increase in your corn yields, and 13% high soybean yields. In dry weather conditions, you can expect 2-5% more corn, and 20-30% high soybean yields depending on the tillage system. And wheat in the rotation helps to control some resistant weeds that grow in soybeans. Wheat also allows you to plant a cover crop. When growers do an economic analysis of growing wheat, they seldom include the value of straw which could add another $50-60 revenue
Yields with Wheat in the Rotation
Dry Weather Impact with Wheat in the Rotation
Right now, there is a lot of interest on selling soybean seed for 2024. I have gone through a number of promotion materials from Bayer and Corteva. Here are some points from their information packages.
1. Xtend beans out yield Enlist beans. In multiple year on farm comparisons. (BAYER)
2. In the US the Enlist brand has about 55% of the seed market. (CORTEVA)
3. There are good herbicide recommendations from both camps as to how to control certain weeds. (BAYER and CORTEVA)
4. There is concern with off target movement of dicamba. (PJL)
5. There is concern of resistance to both herbicides. (PJL)
6. Both companies have great genetics that can give almost identical yield (ON AVERAGE)
7. You need to assess what your biggest yield deterrent is. Is it mould, SCN, weeds. Once you have decided that, pick varieties to address those issues by farm/field.
8. You will end up with more than one variety. Consider using all Enlist or Xtend beans to lower chance of spraying error.
9. Once you decide on which system figure out spray program. Are you spraying yourself or custom? Line up the spraying now.
- Decide where wheat will be in fall 2024 and what soybean variety for those acres.
Projected Market Share (Corteva)
Controlling White Mould
Here is a link to my article in Better Farming on White Mould https://www.betterfarming.com/flippingbook/betterfarming/2023/december/42/
How I selected my soybean seed for 2024 (JZ)
- Picked a short list of suppliers I wanted to work with.
- Looked at gross dollars (yield * market price + premium) by soybean market class (Crush vs IP/non-GMO)
- Backed out the seed and herbicide cost, looked at total net dollars.
- Picked the varieties out of the top 2-3 net margin, picked two that had the best agronomic traits for the issues I need to deal with (Phytophthora/SCN/SDS/white mould). The herbicide platform was a distant 5th, as weed control hasn’t been an issue.
The picture below was posted on Twitter. It was titled The Good the Bad the Ugly. The person who posted it commented that it was from samples taken in Huron and Middlesex counties.
Red clover winners
Semican Seeds sponsored a “Best Red Clover Under seeding” competition. The winner of 1000 lbs of red clover seed is Brett Griffith of Alvinston and the winner of 500 lbs of red clover seed is Bill VanderLinde of Camlachie. Congratulations to both. You can read their recipes in Better Farming at
Q I have a field with high fleabane that I want to seed to alfalfa next spring. How can I control the fleabane. I am presuming it is glyphosate resistant. I worked it this fall but now I notice a bunch more emerging.
Ans Right now all you can do is count on tillage next spring.
Of the herbicides
1. Dicamba would control fleabane and alfalfa for at least 30 days
2. 2,4-D and MCPA similarly but maybe not quite as long of residual.
3. Liberty would work preplant but the odds are very low of having hot sunny weather for Liberty to work
4. Eragon will also control alfalfa
5. Only option is to work the ground a make sure the fleabane is all covered with dirt.
For the next time, spray dicamba in the fall. This will give you at least 30 days residual. The ones that germinate in the fall are the worst ones.
Maximize fertilizer dollars by getting pH right
This chart shows how pH affects nutrient availability. So even if you can grow corn at a pH below 6.5, raising pH increases nutrient availability.
I just read another article on best use of fertilizer The biggest regulator of the return on your fertilizer investment is raising the pH to above 6.2 for corn or 7.0 for legumes. This is where fertilizer is most available and the plant growth can make the most use of it. As the pH drops, fertilizer efficiency drops 30 – 50% in producing crop yield (spending more, getting less). Correct soil pH is a BASIC MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLE for any manager who has any desire to run a profitable farm.
From the archives 10 years ago late November 2013
Dealing With Ruts – As corn harvest continues ruts will become more of an issue (unless you can wait until ground freezes). Where ruts are already made, suggest you mould board plough those areas. You can then use some type of vertical tillage on the rest of the field. Mould board plough does a better job on ruts than vertical tillage. We are now entering a time that I shudder when I see chisel ploughs working wet soils. You can do it on silt loams soils and some lighter clay loams but I have witnessed too many yield losses when a chisel plough was used when the soil was wet and then we had a dry spring the next year. The soil particles just do not get a chance to break down. You end up doing an extra pass and this dries out the soil. If you get lots of freezing and thawing over winter the damage is less.
From the archives 20 years ago 2003
In-Furrow Starter and Broadcast Phosphorus and Potassium Fertilization for Corn – 13 on-farm Iowa trials comparing broadcast P&K vs. nothing vs. in–furrow vs. a combination produced the results in the table at the side. The results indicate that there always was a yield increase to P&K. The method of application gave varying results. Under different circumstances different methods won. The starter applied about 3 lbs of nitrogen and 18 lbs of P&K. The broadcast P&K was the amount applied for 1-year corn and the following year of soys. The total P was about 100 lbs/acre and the total K about 120 lbs/ac. I have listed average as well as representative farms.
I want to manage my tillage equipment depth from the seat of the tractor, seen anything lately? (JZ)
One system that keeps popping up in my X (Twitter) feed is Topcon’s Tillage Depth Control System. I can’t say I have any experience with it myself, but the video demo looks interesting. If you have used it, send me a note on how it has worked. It’s based off Norac sensors, similar to the ones used for sprayer boom height control.
John Deere have demonstrated their TruSet Tillage Technology the last two years at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show. Go to John Deere Tillage to find out more.
This article is business heavy, given that I have significant management accounting exposure and I get asked these types of questions periodically, I wanted to write about it to keep the razor sharp.
Q - What should I be measuring for improvements within my cash crop operation? (JZ)
A – With so many software tools and ways of measuring information, many get overwhelmed with how to approach benchmarking and measuring their own metrics. Some of the terms can be intimidating at times, and how to come up with an understanding of the ratios or measurements can be tedious (to get data you need to do your paperwork first!). The key missing piece is usually discipline and not the lack of knowledge.
I’m a bigger proponent of having a forward-looking dashboard than looking in the review mirror and comparing to how things have gone relative to the past. Having financial year over year data is great, with inflation and other factors it can become difficult to compare time periods. The goal is making better forward looking decisions relative to the options at hand, rather than the coulda, shoulda, woulda of looking in the rear-view mirror that all of us are prone to.
What would I put on my forward-looking dashboard?
Cashflow for business is like breathing for a human. You should have a 12-month rolling cashflow forecast. Cash flow is simply money in less money out, and seeing what’s left at the end of the month. I break these statements into three segments. Operations, Investments and Financing with a net position change at the bottom.
Under operations, put in your known payments (bank fees, equipment loans, mortgages), crop input expenses, fuel etc. on a monthly basis, play with the expected yield and prices you expect to receive. When are the short falls that you might be relying on an operating line or outside financing? If the net change is negative and you don’t have enough in the account or operating line to cover it, it’s a sign you need to get some crop sold or additional financing in place.
At a minimum you will know what money is coming in and what is going out when so that you can avoid an unnecessary shortfall. Once completed, compare budget forecast to actual. The more you do this the better you get, and you will anticipate when there is likely to be more month than bank account.
The second piece on the dashboard would be cost of production. Some grain marketing folks will suggest it is what it is, and you can’t do much about it. Perhaps when it comes to direct costs, there is some truth to that. However, we are trying to make margin decisions. When it comes to overhead costs (i.e. living expenses, employee wages, loan payments/financing costs), nothing could be further from the truth, there are some big differences between farming operations.
The third piece on the dashboard would be sales to date vs expected production. If I sold more crop today, what would my average sales be and how much money would I make? How does it impact my cost of production? What happens if you yield is lower than expected, higher than expected. What happens if prices move (up or down)?
The fourth piece on the dashboard would be expected yield. You can start by using your 3-year average. This is likely to change throughout the season as the crop gets planted, you check emergence for plant stands, have a feel for how these interact with the weather patterns. You may have a range that you’re working with by crop with a target number. This can then help feed and drive your budgeted cost of production and expected grain sales.
There are many ways of calculating these numbers. If you’re struggling to start, just start by writing it down using pencil and paper. Use more sophisticated tools once you’re comfortable with how it looks on paper and you have a feel for what numbers are important.
After all of these are completed, now you can start doing incremental analysis of how you can affect the numbers at hand. If I grow more soybeans instead of corn, what’s the impact? If I spend more money on fertilizer, how does that impact cashflow needs? If I prepay my corn seed this year, how does that affect things?
Next week I’ll go through a few additional metrics I feel you should have on your dashboard.
"I have a friend who says the first rule of fishing is to fish where the fish are. The second rule of fishing is to never forget the first rule. We've gotten good at fishing where the fish are."