3 steps to a profitable crop plan

June 20, 2023
Dylan Tacke, a CHS agronomy specialist, explains why farmers should develop a crop plan that accounts for unexpected in-season agronomic challenges. 

A successful growing season starts with a solid crop plan that will flex with whatever the season brings. Dylan Tacke, an agronomy specialist with CHS, explains what farmers should think about while developing a plan and shares tips for managing unexpected challenges. 

Build a profitable farm plan

“Farmers need to know where their dollars are being spent to maximize their profit potential. The more prescriptive we can get with decision-making, the harder those dollars tend to work,” Tacke says. “For example, chemical needs will vary depending on the tillage program. We’ve seen early-season application windows tighten as the industry trends toward earlier planting, so it’s important to be proactive with a weed-control plan. Farmers should also plan for fungicide and foliar nutrient applications, which may be more fluid, depending on the seasonal conditions.”

Prepare for the unexpected

Each growing season is different and brings unexpected challenges. Tacke recommends building flexibility in crop plans to remain agile.

“When we’re putting the farm plan together, I always recommend adding $30 to $40 an acre for miscellaneous costs. Last year, with the drought, some farms exceeded those costs by $25 to $35 an acre due to increased irrigation costs,” he explains. “Another example is disease. We’ve got a lot of white mold in some areas, and some tar spot is coming in. Build those costs into the plan in case treatment is necessary.”

“It’s impossible to predict what will happen once seed is in the ground. We had significant snow in northeast Nebraska this winter, and many farmers were hopeful the snow pattern would transition to a rain pattern this summer. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. We advised turning  pivots on early to activate residual herbicides and stimulate more root growth to prevent rootless corn syndrome,” he explains.

Take action

Reviewing research results is important when formulating a crop plan, but Tacke says taking action is the best way to know if a product or practice will work on your farm.

“I encourage farmers to work with trusted agronomists to set up small-scale on-farm trials before committing to a whole-acre change,” Tacke says. “No operation is the same; no field is the same. Farmers must make field-by-field decisions to maximize profitability.”