Harvest lessons to help in 2022

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Hello, northeast Ohio! Autumn has always been my favorite time of the year, as it has something for every sense. The sound of leaves crunching underneath our feet, the taste of hot apple cider, the cool autumn breeze, the smell of corn harvest and the sight of the brilliant orange and red colors across the landscape. Fall also signifies the end of a growing season. 

The words of Solomon ring true when he wrote for everything there is a season and a time for every matter. Harvest is followed by a long winter’s rest before the seeds of this year’s harvest bring life back to our fields. 

In a sense, farm managers can mimic nature. We can harvest the lessons learned from 2021, take a deep breath during winter and then chart our 2022 business strategies. 

As you plan for 2022, I would like to share details about OSU Extension’s newly released 2022 crop budgets, remind you about our custom farm rates publication and encourage you to think ahead for continued labor and supply chain shortages. 

Crop budgets

Barry Ward from OSU Extension released the 2022 crop budget forecasts at the Farm Science Review. While crop prices are projected to remain strong, higher fertilizer, seed, chemical, fuel, machinery and repair costs are expected for 2022. Factored together, 2022 profit margins are predicted to be much tighter than we had in 2021. 

For any producer who has not received the 2022 budget estimates for corn, soybean and wheat, they can be found at farmoffice.osu.edu/farm-mgt-tools/farm-budgets. 

In addition to these row crop budgets, there are newly updated forage budgets. These include alfalfa hay, alfalfa haylage and corn silage. Also recently updated are two market beef budgets, which include market beef budget (self-fed) and market beef budget (bunk-fed). 

Farm custom rates

One of OSU Extension’s most popular bulletins is the Ohio Farm Custom Rates Bulletin. This guide helps farmers and landowners alike as they negotiate the price to hire farming tasks and operations. 

For instance, if my combine is giving me fits during this year’s harvest, what price should I expect a neighboring farmer to charge to harvest my corn or soybeans? A landowner may also wish to know the cost to hire a farmer to mow, rake and bale their hayfield. 

Other rates which can be found in the bulletin include the expected costs to brush-hog a pasture, spread lime and/or fertilizer, prepare soil, plant crops, harvest silage and much more. The Ohio Farm Custom Rates can also be accessed at: https://farmoffice.osu.edu/farm-mgt-tools/custom-rates-and-machinery-costs.

Backup plans

Clear back to last spring, we have been discussing the lingering impacts of the coronavirus pandemic with regards to labor and supply chain issues. Time has not healed these woes, as there are still major supply chain shortages with regards to machinery parts, herbicides and fertilizer. 

The labor shortage is also impacting farmers, especially with finding part-time labor to assist with corn and soybean harvest. 

Looking forward to next year, our advice is to use any rainy days to look over your equipment. I recently heard John Fulton speak on this issue in Tuscarawas County and his advice was to make sure you have already gone over your planter and tillage equipment to see what parts you need and get them ordered. 

Now more than ever, managers will have to develop contingency plans for almost every aspect of their operation. 

How will work get done if employees get sick or are in quarantine? What will you do when equipment breaks down and no parts are available? If there is a fertilizer or crop protection or weed chemical shortage next spring, what will you do? How will you respond to other slow-downs in the supply chain? 

Closing thoughts

I hope each of you gleans as much as you can from another crazy year and takes time to make plans for 2022. 

I would like to share a quote from Brandon Jenner, who stated, “Sometimes we let life guide us, and other times we take life by the horns. But one thing is for sure: no matter how organized we are, or how well we plan, we can always expect the unexpected.” 

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David Marrison is an associate professor and Extension educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension. He can be reached at 740-622-2265 or marrison.2@osu.edu.

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