Market News & Headlines >> Brock Consultant Katie Hancock's Blog: Top 5 Ways to Catch Up On Fieldwork

 Insights from Brock Associates Consultant Katie Hancock


It’s important to know how quickly farmers catch up on fieldwork. This applies to both those with planting delays last month and those working at a normal pace. Why is this important information? Because the quick pace farmers catch up or keep up directly impacts crop prices.

This week’s crop progress report figured planting progress at 55%, which is an impressive 36 points above the previous week. In some areas the progress was more aggressive. Here in Kentucky, we were sidelined most of April due to rain, yet went from roughly 40 to 2,000 acres of corn planted in just one week. We were almost to the point of switching some acres to beans, but one week can make or break a crop plan. It’s easy to see how this can translate into a quick change in prices as well. These are the main way farmers are able to make quick progress.

1) Large Equipment. Machinery is larger now. Tractors have more horsepower and implements are wider. Farmers cover acres quickly. Not to mention the impressive lighting package farmers use to work at night.

2) Careful Planning. Most farmers have a written field plan detailing field-by-field planting intentions and seed varieties weeks before starting fieldwork. Plans change, but a written plan is an essential organizational tool that keeps a steady pace.

3) Long Hours. It’s normal to work over 14 hours each day to plant the crop. Farmers make sacrifices to start the best crop possible. Some even alternate drivers to work almost nonstop.

4) Technology. GPS auto steer, for example, reduces driver fatigue and improves efficiency. Working after dark is much easier with monitors to drive tractors, automatic cut-off on overlaps, and field mapping to detail covered area.

5)  Weather Forecasting. Phone apps allow farmers to stay updated when away from a computer. Monitoring weather helps plan around rain. This may mean working later ahead of a rain shower or avoid planting before heavy rain. Avoiding planting before a heavy rain prevents potential replanting.

Covering acres will become quicker and easier each year. This tells me price volatility will only get worse in time. A fast planting pace will not control crop conditions later in the season, but it starts the crop in the best conditions.