Harvest on the Brain

Anticipation for harvest is building at Pinicon. Preparation for this event began late in the spring of 2016 when the first version of the 2017 crop plan spreadsheet was printed. By late summer the crop mix was finalized, fertilizer tests were evaluated to develop an application recipe, and our vendor network was engaged in a quest to get the absolute best price for inputs.

While the 2016 harvest was ramping up, 2017 fertilizer needs were purchased and delivered, variable rate maps downloaded, variety selection initiated, and sales were being consummated for a crop that was still 7 months from planting. By December of 2016 this endeavor had become our primary focus and has occupied that status ever since.

In other words, the 2017 harvest has been 16 months in the making. It reflects the current state of many years of trials, errors, and just enough success to keep us optimistic. Experiencing the results of our best efforts is always rewarding and insightful, regardless of the outcome.

Another facet of grain farming that adds to our preoccupation with harvest is the fact that in one’s career, you have roughly 35 to 45 production cycles to perfect your craft. Imagine if Peyton Manning only played 40 games in his lifetime or if Bob Dylan could write only one song per year? Add to that infrequency, a production environment which has extreme variability.

To gain advantage in this business, the old fashioned strategy of inheritance is tough to beat. However, for those of us not born into that club, being a quick study is the next best option. Harvest yield provides the definitive answer to the question of which genetics, nutrients, technologies and management will be most profitable. How well you navigate this plethora of choices literally determines your survival in agriculture.

So as mid-September arrives and our crops reach maturity, pregame butterflies invade our consciousness. Mentally, we are approaching that stage in the race where we find out if we have the strongest kick down the back stretch or we will stumble and bonk on the final lap? Experience says we will have both success and disappointment. Ironically, it is the failures which present the greatest opportunities for growth.

Hope you all enjoy the upcoming autumn season. We will be thinking of you as we discover new life lessons and hopefully some instances where we got it right.

Jim