Producer Page: Don't worry?!

Ouch……that is about all you can say about the market reaction to the latest USDA crop report.  But, rather than sitting around and worrying about things you can’t control (USDA, the weather etc.) your time is better spent by taking action to control the controllables in your operation.  Here is a list of suggestions:

  1. Your attitude—Be proactive and forward looking.  Your grandparents faced much tougher challenges than anything you wrestle with (Great Depression, World War II, Dust Bowl, etc.)   You can get through a market setback.  Take time to give back to your community and the less fortunate, as it will pay you back many times over in many ways.

  2. Review your management—If you are disappointed with your marketing the past few years……take steps to make improvements.  Write down a plan, select a marketing advisor, place orders to sell, be willing to sell in increments.   Do you have any idea where you are at in terms of profit & loss at any given time?  If not, make a concentrated effort to improve record keeping.

  3. Understand Maximum Economic Yield concept—In lean times especially, you need to understand the relationship between your production costs and your final yields.  Begin by knowing your cost of production by bushel or acre and making rational decisions on attainable yield goals.  As a profitable farmer, you need to get as much yield as you can….But…. you cannot chase contest field yields by pouring on inputs when the cost of the treatments exceeds the value of the additional bushels.  For example, set a realistic yield target and fertilize according to university recommendations for that goal with a solid soil test program. 

  4. Cost control—Look ahead to 2018 and carefully review your operation.  A marketing plan doesn’t only consider sale of corn and beans, it can also include timing and source of fuel & farm input purchases.  You can defer equipment purchases and capital improvements until cash flow improves.  You can be proactive on tax and health insurance cost management by working in advance with professional advisors to get your best values rather than waiting till the last moment and accepting a bad result.

  5. Lean Forward—Have a long term plan!  You should have a 3-5 year business map.  Cash flow projections and succession plans are potential parts of this concept.  A good relationship with your lender is important, so that he or she understands what you are trying to achieve and can help you get there.  Even more important are your family relationships… is essential that your spouse is on board and understands your business.  Echo that thought for any children or siblings who have a stake in your operation.   They can help by providing perspective!  Avoid keeping them in the dark until some sort of financial crisis. That can only lead to poor decisions and breaking of familial bonds.

  6. Risk Management—The lack of solid risk management is the biggest threat to most farms.  Do you have appropriate crop insurance?   Do you have adequate property insurance?  How about liability coverage?  Do you have an estate plan?   What are you doing about the potential threat to your asset base from long-term care costs?  Have you done an inspection of your farm to eliminate safety concerns (bin steps, electrical systems, PTO guards etc.)?  Have you informed your spouse or business partners about what they should do if you become incapacitated?  Do you have regularly scheduled medical care?  If you have not addressed these concerns…..WHY NOT?  The sudden event can wipe out a lifetime of hard work if a risk management process is not in place.

There…you see you don’t have time to worry, you have a list of things to do.  And these things will improve your operation and outlook.

Time to get busy!



Mark Producer Page headshotAbout Mark Warmka

Mark has worked at Peoples State Bank since 2003, serving as lead agricultural lending officer and bank Senior Vice President. He is also a member of the Board of Directors. Mark has an extensive background in the financial services industry, possessing both investment and insurance licensing and is fully accredited as a crop insurance agent.

He and his wife, Kate, an elementary teacher in Blue Earth, live on and manage the home farm near Easton. Their daughter, Amanda, is a Physician Assistant at UHD Hospital and daughter, Sara, is teaching and coaching at Fairmont Public Schools. 

You can reach Mark by email or at 507-553-3155.

» More blog posts by Mark here

Tick, tick, tick...

The clock is running out! This is not about a basketball game in the fourth quarter, it is referring to the time you have left to report your acres to the FSA office. The annual deadline is July 15th and that is fast approaching. The Faribault County office does not require appointments for this process, so you can just show up….but you may have to have some patience as other producers will also be there as well.

Don’t forget to bring that report (the FSA 578 form and map photos) to your crop insurance agent immediately after you are finished at the Farm Service Agency. Crop insurance agents are also working on that deadline to submit your planted acreage for multi-peril insurance.

A couple of other items that pop up this time of year---Many of you used the FSA grain loan program, and those bushels are coming to town now. Remember to “call before you haul”. You need to release bushels with the FSA before you remove the grain from the bin. It has been frustrating to get grain hauled to some warehouses or ethanol plants this summer, so be aware of your expiration dates on existing releases, as you may have to call again for an extension of time to haul. I know it seems that you are being hassled about this, but remember that the FSA staff is just doing their job and that your grain is technically collateral on a loan from the US taxpayer.

One last item……This is ditch mowing season, please avoid any Evel Knievel type dare-devil driving on steep ditch banks. Slow down and be careful.  

Good Luck Out There!


Farewell to Flexstar

It has been frustrating at times this spring to complete the application of post-emergence herbicides to our soybean crop.   Windy conditions and scattered rain events have prevented spraying in some locations.   A very popular product for many farmers is Flexstar.  This product is one of the few out there that can control waterhemp and other troublesome broadleaves.

The issue now is that Flexstar has a 10 month rotation back to corn in Minnesota.  So that pushes 2018 planting back into May at this point.  Any Flexstar applied from here on out has an increased chance of carryover injury to next year’s corn.  This herbicide needs rainfall and soil microbe activity to break down.  If things turn dry or there is a hard early freeze-up of soils, then the active ingredient (fomesafen) can persist until the next growing season.

So it is highly recommended that you say farewell for 2017 to your old friend Flexstar and choose a different herbicide if you are still trying to spray for broadleaf weeds in your soybeans.

Good Luck ,


Producer Page: Spring 2017

Ccccold corn--- Typical Minnesota weather….working in a Tshirt over the weekend and seeing snow showers a few days later.  The big topic for farmers this past week has been the decision to plant or not.  Soil conditions for most were pretty good but the forecast was not.  Agronomic research has provided us with some guidance regarding this tough call.  Imbibitional chilling injury is the primary concern in these conditions.  Imbibition is the name for the process where the corn seed absorbs water so it can germinate.  So if soils are below 50 degrees and the corn gets a drink of cold water it can damage cell membranes and  lead to poor emergence and “cork-screwing” of the coleoptile (the first seedling leaves trying to emerge).  The critical time factor seems to be the first 24-36 hours after planting.  So if the forecast is for colder temps and rain, most agronomists will recommend stopping the planter 1-2 days prior to the rain event.  Extended periods of cold soils can lead to injury of any planted seed (not telling you anything you didn’t already know).  Today’s seed is very high quality, so hopefully with a little help from Mother Nature, the planted acres thus far will do fine, but scouting for emergence issues will be recommended.

Depth Do’s & Don’ts--- This can be a matter of opinion, but most agronomists will contend that you need your corn to be planted at a 2 inch depth.  Planting shallower can lead to more uneven stands due to inconsistent germination zone moisture and also it hurts the development of the nodal root system which reduces the uptake of water and nutrients and can lead to lodging issues.  Soybeans on the other hand are recommended to be planted at 1.5 inches(as long as there is adequate moisture).  Planting deeper than that may lead to uneven emergence as plants struggle to come up and enter the early growing season with reduced vigor and lower energy reserves.

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