Like many years in the world of agriculture, 2018 had its ups and downs. Differing from the wet springs of the past few seasons, soils were dry and planting was in full swing come late-April/early May, and most corn and soybeans were planted in a very timely manner. Fortunately, just as things were getting a little too dry, rains picked up in June, and while dry spells did occur throughout the summer, we were usually blessed with rain just in time again before crops experienced too much stress. These conditions along with constantly improving crop genetics and farm production practices led to yet another record yield for the state of Indiana.
Much of that crop is now sold or in grain bins; however, after a nice window in October, conditions have turned wet, and high winds have blown over a lot of the corn that remained in the field, causing headaches for farmers trying to finish up harvest, forcing them to wait for frozen ground. Speaking of grain bins, that is where a majority of grain awaits its fate this fall, as farmers are storing a record number of bushels waiting for prices to increase.
This brings us to another major story line for 2018: trade and tariffs. Just as farmer optimism was on the rise after several down years, the U.S. entered trade negotiations with China, a major importer of U.S. soybeans. These negotiations have led to tariffs, and China looking to import its soybeans elsewhere, causing prices to drop as much as $2 per bushel since the spring. These negotiations are still taking place, and the hope is that ground is gained soon and things return to normal, though these factors are likely to loom into 2019.
Tight profit margins have been a theme for a handful of years now, and unfortunately once again farmers will be dealing with stressed budgets for the coming year. To help navigate these situations and decisions, I would highly recommend visiting Purdue’s Center for Commercial Agriculture: https://ag.purdue.edu/commercialag It is a website designed by ag economists to help provide resources to farmers and agribusinesses seeking information on things such as farm finance, farm management, ag policy, risk management and more.
Additionally, keep an eye out for programming offered by Purdue Extension to assist with these issues. In the coming weeks I will begin promoting upcoming programs focused on grain storage, grain marketing, ag technology, climate change, farm finance, and more. As always, if you have specific issues or questions you need to address, you can reach out to me at 219-984-5115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.