FARMERS ARE WEIGHING THE PRICE OF FERTILITY IN 2022
Higher input prices have XtremeAg farmers Matt Miles, Kelly Garrett, and Kevin Matthews thinking about different crop rotations and fertility plans for 2022.
MATT MILES – MCGEHEE, ARKANSAS
Matt Miles is a fourth-generation farmer in southeast Arkansas who grows corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton.
“To be or not to be” is a famous quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This seems like the scenario we are in today as farmers in my area try to decide if they should grow corn, cotton, or rice. These crops are all high nitrogen users and urea has gone from $400 a ton last year to $1,100 per ton this year. It will cost $180 an acre more in nitrogen to grow corn in 2022 than it did in 2021. That’s not including the increased cost of all the other inputs we use to make our crops grow.
For a Midwest farmer, the rational thinking would be to decrease corn as much as possible and grow all soybeans. Soybeans are at a profitable price with less input risk than corn. But if everyone does this, won’t corn prices rise enough to counter the increased price of nitrogen? If so, should we lock in our price on beans today to protect this decision? Add rice and cotton into the decision-making process and there is no doubt that a farmer’s mind isn’t focusing on Christmas and family this December. Instead, we are running through different scenarios and complex decisions that have to be made very soon. As of today, I think about the fact that we’ve been successful in sticking to our strategy of making longer range plans instead of chasing what’s in front of us at the moment. Rotation has always been at the top of that list to mitigate risk in disease, fertility, weed management, and diversity. I know we can’t be ignorant of the fact that nitrogen prices are at an all-time high, but we also have to consider other factors and advantages of sticking to the normal plan. We pick up 5- to 10-bushel yield on soybeans behind corn. These are just some thoughts I’ve had this winter while trying to figure out a 2022 plan.