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Bin-buster Yields Render Aggressive Planter Purchases

January 25, 2017

Vibrant green acres in southwestern Kentucky  are falling victim to the oversupply story in wheat this year.

“Wheat acres are down a little bit,” said  Barry Alexander, a farmer in Cadiz, Kentucky. “We had a little bit of marginal ground in the rotation for wheat crop this time, and with the way the prices the way they were, we reduced our wheat acres by about 1,000 to 1,500 acres.”

“For us, the best moneymaker is still wheat and double crop beans,” said Tony Folz, Herndon, Kentucky farmer. “So, everybody has pretty much stayed in a true rotation.”

Views on acreage may vary, but these farmers are coming off a record crop year.

“The last two years of been two of the highest yielding double crop beans ever,” said Folz.

High yields and a change in administration are helping move moods.

“I think they're more optimistic,” said Greg Davenport, Customer Account Manager of Hutson Inc.

He says 2016 turned out better than expected at the dealership, a trend that Machinery Pete is also watching.

“High horse power tractors, we've seen good demand,” said Greg Peterson, Host of Machinery Pete TV. “The combine market was very strong end of the year. So, that was maybe the biggest jump I saw in the fourth quarter.”

“I think most farmers are going to make very studied purchases, but they’re going to make purchases,” said Davenport. “They know they can't save their way to a profit. They’re going to have to do some things to maximize yields, minimize expenses.”

Area farmers are trying to maximize yields through more than just equipment.

“I'm planning on spraying every acre of fungicide on corn,” said Folz. "I'm not going to cut costs to try to save money. I’m going to try to make sure what I’m spending is going to give us the best return.”

“The main thing now is maintain,” said Alexander. “There are only a few things we can cut, so we just have to try to produce the best crop we can.”

Producing another great crop all starts with planting, and Machinery Pete says after a bountiful harvest, interest in planters was high.

“At the end of 2016, we saw the used value of auction prices were very solid , kind of surprisingly,  went up more than I thought they would from about November 1 right through the end of December across the country, especially when you got into some of those areas with really good soybean yields, guys were really aggressive,” said Machinery Pete.

Davenport says a game changer for farmers in this area is row shutoffs on planters.  

“I mean it saves on seed, it increases yield,” said Davenport. “The technology is the big thing anymore.”

Other farmers say variable rate planting is also boosting yields.

“The years that we've done the testing and strips, the variable rate stuff has always shown a profit and return,” said Folz.

The technology is peaking interest, largely due to the variability in these rich soils.

“We'll run into 15, 16 different soil types in a 200 acre field,” said Alexander.

As these farmers count down the days until planting season, Hutson suggests farmers holding onto planters a little longer should start prepping that piece of machinery now.

“A two psi change within your vacuum pressure is making a pretty big difference and is financially impacting you,” said Karl Huebner, ISG Manager, Hutson Inc.

From planters to sprayers, it all needs a second look. Huebner says it's also important to now when a spray tip is past its prime.

“What we found is once you pass that about 25,000 acre mark, it's time for you to take a serious look at it, he said. “It’s time to see if your pattern is and where it needs to be.”

With all the unknowns that lie ahead, these farmers are doing everything they can now to make sure the 2017 crop is off to a good start.

“Control everything we can control,” said Folz. “You can't worry about the rest too much."

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