The summer season is a time for spraying, holidays, and even some learning opportunities. There are always field tours to give you information about the effect of different nutrients, fungicides, herbicides, and seed genetics. It’s exciting. But while there are lots of opportunities to educate yourself about how to grow better crops, where are you with getting better at your marketing plan?
Who’s touring the fields?
Most of us know that there are a few marketing advisors who do crop tours to gauge how crops are progressing in their area. It’s the best way to gather intel on yield estimates. After all, you can’t tell much from behind an office window.
What about the grain companies? Many of them have agronomists and sales reps who are always eager to have conversations about how your crops look and what you think you’ll yield. Some of them will even scout your fields. Why? Because they want an accurate assessment of potential grain yields to estimate their supply and demand. They use the intelligence they gather to feed into their systems and processes to make projections around quantities and prices for the season.
If grain companies can gather this information and use it for these kind of projections – wouldn’t it be nice if you had similar info for your own marketing projections. We all know, good information leads to great decisions. But where do you get the information beyond what’s happening in your own fields and what you hear at the coffee shop?
Where are the tours and educational opportunities for you to gather intelligence on local yields and become a better grain marketer?
A new – old way
I was excited to hear that FarmLink is resurrecting the old CWB Grain World Summer tour (they revived the Grain World conference last fall and will host it again this year). They put their own twist on the summer tour by using their FarmLink team to gather and consolidate relevant field information. Their Market Advisors partnered with agronomists and growers and looked at over 100 fields across Western Canada in just 3 days. They used the information they collect to calculate yield estimates and then share the data publicly.
I love what they’re doing! It’s transparent and they have an open invitation for anyone to attend the tours and the wrap up meeting.
Last week in Saskatoon, they shared their crop tour results along with some Western Canada specific supply and demand considerations for growers to think about. They also had Kurt Ahrens, the president of US-based Grainbot in attendance to talk about the crop conditions in the US and what kind of marketing risks and opportunities that presents to growers here. Overall, it’s a great opportunity for growers to understand, first hand, what the marketing realities might be for them this year.
The need for insight
All of the intel gathered by the grain companies will factor into the price you receive for your grain. You want this information to make your own accurate marketing projections. Gathering your own intel on yields in your area is a good thing. It’s also a matter of ground truthing what you hear from others and what it “looks like from the road”. If you have the time, doing your own yield tours (aka crop checking) is always great. You can use tools like the Alberta Agriculture crop yield calculator to get better estimates for your own crops.
You can use your own information and any you have from outside, trusted sources to plug into the marketing plan for your farm. This is how you get the best idea of where you’re at for contracted grain and what you can expect yet to contract.
The intelligence also helps you decide to be more aggressive of back off. As an example, we recently saw wheat go limit up on futures on a single trading day. If you had confidence in your yield projections, you could have pulled the trigger on a few more loads on that opportunity. For the more adventurous, it can also play into decisions around storage planning?
Keep in mind however, that your specific area is not bigger than the market. What you know and what you learn will not influence the market, but what you know and what you learn will influence how you act within the market.
Bottom line, in a world of agronomic tours, don’t lose sight on yield estimates! Use the info available all over, and a tip of the hat to FarmLink for resurrecting the Grain World yield tour and being transparent with the information. More information makes for better decisions!