3 Predictions for the 2021 Growing Season

There is at least some truth to the old axiom – perhaps the only thing you can really predict about a growing season is that it will be unpredictable. After all, just when you thought you had seen everything, a cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal throws a dose of volatility at the most encouraging grain market you’ve seen in years. 

While you can’t predict some things, there are other stories told by data and experience that can be used to forecast what will be the key tenets of the 2021 growing season. Here are three themes that will likely define the next six months of farming.  

  1. Prosperity Yields Return of Spend Trends

With corn and soybean prices flirting with eight-year highs, many farmers are finding themselves in a position to make operational adjustments that haven’t been on the table for much of the past five years. For some, that may mean adding on-farm grain storage, for others it will mean either buying or renting additional land. Additionally, more than 50% of farmers are planning to purchase new or used equipment this season as well.1 

The consequence is this: if you’re looking to turn profit into operational additions, you won’t be alone. Expect everything that goes along with increased demand, including higher prices and longer waits. 

  1. The Carbon Boost Begins

There’s a good chance that 20 years from now you will look back at 2021 as the year that carbon farming became a bona fide reality. With a global market of $277 billion, a future in which North American farmers can access a sizable chunk of that opportunity is nearing.

This month, Corteva Agriscience is launching its Carbon Initiative. Farmers can earn an estimated $5 to $20 an acre per year by selling carbon credits if they’ve introduced cover crops and/or switched to strip or no-till on acres post-harvest 2020 for the 2021 growing season. For its inaugural year, the program will enroll acres across three states (Illinois, Indiana and Iowa) with plans to expand to more states in 2022. 

Nutrien, Indigo, Cargill and others are buoying their own carbon offerings this season as well, setting up the year as a pivotal one for the long-term future of carbon credits. 

3) Soil Health Takes Center Stage

For the past five years, planning and in-season decisions have been guided by the need to cut costs in the face of steep grain price declines. This year, many farmers can return to managing their operations for enhanced soil health and the various benefits it provides. That means finite attention to soil tests, nutrient removal data and in-season tissue testing to maximize the opportunities afforded by the market. Consistent and regular soil sampling to identify areas of deficiencies will allow growers to isolate and analyze yield variables and to manage spend accordingly.

Greater upside also means there is no better time than now to do more with farm data, using tools like Granular Insights to analyze agronomic impacts and make the most out of the 2021 growing season.

References

1 – J.L. Farmakis, Inc. 2021 Farmer Speaks Survey

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