The Perfect Storm

Posted by on May 17, 2016 in Uncategorised | Comments Off on The Perfect Storm

This time last year we entered the spring with a level of positive optimism, crops looked well, fertiliser was cheaper than last year, grain prices where strong and potential output looked good.  This gave us confidence to provide the crop with a robust disease control strategy.  Once all the major decisions had been made, in terms of level of expenditure, the markets started to collapse.

This slide continued as a result of the strong pound, high global production and falling demand.  The only light at the end to the tunnel was that most growers had taken advantage of the higher prices at the start of the marketing period, locking it to some profit, but this all culminated in the saying:

“The only certainty about a high input, high output farming system is the high input!”

This year is very different, crops look well, especially the latter drilled 2nd wheats, disease pressure is higher due to the milder winter, rusts, septoria and mildew are present on a lot of the varieties.

The opportunity of marketing grain at a price which is accessible is gone, but fertiliser is cheaper, as long as it was bought at the right time.

So what do we do?

  • Improve attention to detail, you cannot afford a poor crop or poor field.
  • Use a disease resistant variety, tailor fungicide programs to reduce costs.
  • Re-look at rotation to improve average gross margin
  • Re-look at rotation to improve labour/machinery profits to enable cost reduction.
  • Re-look at rotation to reduce establishment costs
  • Re-look at varieties, consider better disease resistant ones to reduce reliance on fungicides.
  • Re-look at varieties, consider higher yielding group 1 and 2, grown as feed, with potential small price at the end.
  • Know your costs of production, so you can react to potential market opportunities with confidence.
  • Make sure the basics are correct:
  • Drainage
  • P, K, Soꝫ, ph
  • Ditching
  • Tailor your field and crop selection to reduce costs, (don’t grow a crop of early wheat on a bad blackgrass field)!
  • Improve the use of cultural methods for controlling blackgrass.
  • Drilling date
  • Spring cropping
  • Pray for a crop disaster in the world!
  • Collaboration with a neighbour