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Life as a pedigreed seed grower is often an interesting journey. Farmers have a difficult time deciding what to grow in the spring. As a seed producer, we have to try and figure out what our clients will be growing two years out which is exponentially more challenging as there are many factors not showing up at planting time that can clip your legs out from under the best laid plans. World weather events, global economic issues, crop prices, and political decisions are just a few of the many factors to consider.

A few years ago, we raised sheep. Over 400 of them. When we wanted to get them moving, we would just get their attention by banging on a pail which usually contained barley. Not enough for everybody, but it didn’t matter. It served a purpose. The keen ones got moving to the pail as quick as they could to get a few mouthfuls of barley, then when the others saw a few heading on a dead run, they weren’t sure why but they decided to run along as well. Pretty soon we had command of the entire flock and could lead them anywhere with a now empty pail. The precious few got a prize of some barley, but sadly the majority got nothing. They were just participants in my exercise to control what I wanted them to do.

Quite often I see this behavior in agricultural producers. Whether it is a particular crop that is showing promise of good return next year to the latest in technology and farm equipment- One starts out with something, then all of a sudden it becomes a stampede to “get in on the trend”. Next thing we saturate the market and the price crashes.

Hemp is an example of the latest casualty to “farming like sheep”. What was once a promising crop, now has been massively overproduced because everyone saw the few running to the pail and now everyone is involved.

Peas and lentils, are they next? I have attended a number of trade shows this fall/ winter and EVERYONE is putting them in for 2016. Did the contracting company bang on the pail and now everyone is running that way?

What about a balanced crop plan? Rather than running this way one year when we hear the pail being rattled, then a completely different way the next with the “latest and greatest”, there is more control. Having a balanced plan allows for the producer to spread his risk out over a number of crops, and thereby taking advantage of long term cash flow security while being able to capitalize on factors that throw the marketplace for a spin.

Over the years, using this approach has allowed our operation to weather the storms of uncertainty, as we have the additional challenge of an extra year involved to have our product up to market.

If you have any questions about a balanced or even a contrarian balanced crop plan, give me a call on my cell phone to chat. 403-633-9999.