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Christmas and the New Year are fast approaching. While these are enjoyable holidays, there are still some important decisions that need to be made on the farm. Some decisions may need to be made before the first of the year to take advantage of up-to-the-minute changes in the markets and in buying farm inputs.
It has been a difficult year for farmers in many ways. First, spring weather didn’t make it easy to get crops planted. Rains came at the wrong time making it tough to get corn and soybeans planted at the right time.
Once they got in the ground, the growing season did prove to be good. There was plenty of moisture and warm temperatures to bring crops along with prospects for a good harvest. But that harvest was delayed for many farmers because wet weather again came along at the wrong time.
In spite of some muddy, difficult times many farmers were able harvest good if not record crops. Many fields were cut up by the combine and harvest equipment but the job got done in most fields.
There are still a few fields of corn and soybeans still standing and they may be out there until it freezes. Frozen ground allows for equipment to get the last few fields harvested.
Once the grain is harvested, a decision has to be made about selling it. Sell directly from the combine, store it if you have the bin facilities or send it to the elevator to be priced at a later time.
Selling stored grain is a decision that may need to be made before the first of the year. That depends on the need for income now or will it be better to sell after the first of the year? These few days from now until January first can be important from a market and income situation.
Other decisions may need to be made in the next few days, if they haven’t been already. Seed and fertilizer are both important costs and many farmers have already made those decisions for next year. Others may make them in the next few days.
Dairy farmers will be taking a look at their feed supplies for the rest of the year. Will they have to buy some grain and if so, is now the time to lock in a supply? Soap and other sanitary supplies are another expense that adds up and now may be the time to look at what will be needed for the rest of the year.
Most dairy farmers have planned far ahead with roughage supplies and will have enough silage and hay for the rest of the year. If they are not sure they may need to find a supply to carry them over until harvest time next year.
Milk prices have been erratic this winter because of the situation between the United States, Canada and China. There is hope that the trade agreements that have been negotiated will strengthen milk prices. Some uncertainty continues to exist however.
Farm families are like the rest of us. They need and deserve some time to relax and enjoy life. But some some important decisions may need to be made in the next few days. After Christmas isn’t necessarily a slow time on the farm.
Submitted by John Parker, who is retired from The Ohio State University and an independent writer for the Farm Bureau.
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