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So, am I the only one having trouble trying to justify a robust fertility program on wheat this year when I look at fertilizer prices compared to commodity prices?
 

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Fert prices and commodity prices have nothing to do with each other unfortunately. In saying that, fert has been dropping a bit and prices are somewhat reasonable. Also, with commodity prices, don’t we have to grow as much as we can to make it ?
 

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Maybe I'm missing something vital, but it doesn't look to me like the prices for wheat will be all that different next year than they were this year and last year. Fertilizer prices are not awesome, but they've been worse in my short career. Wheat is not a great money maker, but we do make a return on it and get decent yields. I have no plan to change the fertility program next year. Will be buying fertilizer over the next couple of weeks.

From what I can see the only difference from a year ago is the amount of stress that farmers are under with crop left unharvested and dreaded uncertainty about a repeat next year. That will surely affect farmers' plans for next year up here.
 

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Bah not seeing Fert prices going down much. Think I paid less last year
 

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So, am I the only one having trouble trying to justify a robust fertility program on wheat this year when I look at fertilizer prices compared to commodity prices?
What is a "robust" fertilizer plan? Is that when you fertilize to that spot in the chart where the additional yield return is "no freakin chance no matter how much it rains" ?
 

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With the dryer conditions the past three years a robust fertilizer program has not gained much except increased cost. With durum wheat where they do not pay for higher protein it is harder to figure out what the right level of fertilization should be.
 

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Prices have dropped considerably over the last couple months, thankfully one of our inputs has. Still, they are high relative to how much we have to grow to pay the cost per acre, also what are commodities are worth.
Talked to one neighbour month or so ago, he said he’s going back to half and half. He said the retailers can go suck rocks with their high inputs. I think it’s time to rent the farm or sell if it gets to that.
I will be booking my fert this wk, not sure where yet, priced out 8 retailers.
Basically there’s no favortism whoever excepts my ridiculous offer gets my money. ??
Question is though would prices be any better if we ALL didn’t grow as much?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I guess what I am thinking with robust is targetting a fairly good yield for my area, say 40 bushels per acre, but I need to do a little soil building as I am really deficient in P & K as well for a variety of reasons. But even just looking at the cost of N it is hard to justify at these prices.
 

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Yeah the options really are limited. We have a half section of dryland and we're struggling to know what to do with it. Adding peas or lentils would be good. They don't require major inputs and fix their own nitrogen which helps with soil building. Our oilseed options are limited because of isolation issues with our irrigated fields where we grow seed canola.

Would you try continuous cropping, or stick with fallow? For us fallow has given us good yields, but weed control in the fallow years is becoming a real problem. Even using glyphosate with a variety of other chemicals four times a year is not good for resistance.
 

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I guess what I am thinking with robust is targetting a fairly good yield for my area, say 40 bushels per acre, but I need to do a little soil building as I am really deficient in P & K as well for a variety of reasons. But even just looking at the cost of N it is hard to justify at these prices.

I think you need to pay attention to your instincts on this njungers. There is no prize for growing the best crop possible and doing it in the red. Well, actually there is but you wouldn’t like the prize. Sometimes when economic and growing cycles dictate a more modest investment in fertilizers the nutrient ratio ideologies also need to change with the situation. Generally when the chips are down and you’re in survivor mode on part of your rotation it can be wise to increase the N ratio. That sounds backwards unless you do it by reducing the other more fixed nutrients and reducing their per acre costs. If you’re determined to build a soil that doesn’t already exist you’re likely better off doing it on the fields that are growing the crops in rotation that are paying right now. At least then, you have a chance of actually making more money if things go well.

In the 90’s I had people come in and sit in front of my desk with fear in their voice because their risk instincts had kicked in. By then we had developed a computerized blend program that we could even interject optional non blendable products like ammonia or acid for nutrient cost analysis per acre. Maybe I was just good at it because I had walked in their shoes before, but I found it very easy to adjust nutrient targets or ratios for what they were growing and to see them or sense them becoming comfortable with each field decision and eventually the entire investment package for their farm and eventually leave smiling and relieved.

Unfortunately most retailers won’t be trained or in tune to this, so you may have to spin their monitor around and take over the keyboard. I wouldn’t be afraid to go to a 4:1 N/P ratio on crops that could struggle to break even at the moment, just stay under your squeal point on costs on those crops and don’t cheat yourself too much on the other crops that you’re more optimistic about in the near term.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yeah the options really are limited. We have a half section of dryland and we're struggling to know what to do with it. Adding peas or lentils would be good. They don't require major inputs and fix their own nitrogen which helps with soil building. Our oilseed options are limited because of isolation issues with our irrigated fields where we grow seed canola.

Would you try continuous cropping, or stick with fallow? For us fallow has given us good yields, but weed control in the fallow years is becoming a real problem. Even using glyphosate with a variety of other chemicals four times a year is not good for resistance.
I am leaning toward continuous or at least 3 out of 4 years, even though we are dry. With land costs and weed issues, spending $30 or more on chemical for fallow isn't paying any bills. Even a break even crop is gaining me that amount as long as I don't have to give up too much the following year. That is one reason I am looking at pulses, because I may be able to eventually cut down on the N in the following year.
 

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How about custom green feed? We been doing some the last two years and it really pencils out good. Weight bales get a check
 

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If you look what $$$ are spend on the farm I would say fertilizer gives me my best returns .
If in survival mode I would buy inputs in March put down bare minimum and top up when gut feeling permitted.
Unfortunately I see farmers keep spending on toys and buy stuff on auctions what has zero net revenue........
 

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If you look what $$$ are spend on the farm I would say fertilizer gives me my best returns .
If in survival mode I would buy inputs in March put down bare minimum and top up when gut feeling permitted.
Unfortunately I see farmers keep spending on toys and buy stuff on auctions what has zero net revenue........

Yep. You hit it. I've got neighbors saying things like "we may not plant next year" or "going to have to cut back on fertilizer", one of them just got back from an around the world vacation trip. Most of my neighbors have wives with high paying jobs and don't rely on the farm for a living. Nothing wrong with that. But those of us who farm for a living have a little bit of a hard time with their philosophy (My last vacation was a honeymoon in 2003). New pickups and vacations should probably be replaced by NPK if things are really that bad.

Just a side note to the OP. I in no way am saying you're one of the people I described above. When times are lean its necessary to evaluate everything. Asking hard questions about inputs and seeking advice is part of it. I'm asking myself many of the same questions. Good luck with this next year.
 

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I went back to 1/3 summer fallow last year.
Dad thought I was nuts and complaining because he and the other landlords don't get rent on those fields when I do that.
My argument is working for a loss doesn't make me any money.
Good thing I have some fallow because I would still have crop out in the field otherwise.
Even dad made the comment as we drove by the summer fallow on the way to combine another field the one good thing is we don't have to combine that.
This summer fallow idea caused a lot of friction in the cab of the truck.
I'm not very popular.
 
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