Winter will soon draw to a close – although with all the snow we have in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes right now, it’s hard to imagine that the end is in sight. But at some point, the thaw will come, so here’s a reminder of all the tasks that need to be done over the winter to help make sure you’re still on track.

 

Hauling and storing corn and soybeans

If you store your corn or soybeans in offsite grain bins, you’ve probably done most of your hauling by now. But if you store any grain on your farm, you may still have deliveries to make to feed mills, ethanol plants, or shipping & export facilities before spring. For tips on proper drying and grain storage, check out our blog post on “Storing Food Grade Soybeans” and this post from one of our dealers (Growmark FS Partners) on monitoring temperature and humidity in your storage bins throughout the winter: “Maintaining Stored Grain Requires Diligence.”

 

Repairing and cleaning equipment

Hopefully you’ve cleaned your equipment by now, although you’ll still need to clear the dust off in springtime before you put your machinery back into service. And the downtime in winter provides the perfect opportunity for equipment maintenance and improvements. Taking care of things like lubrication, repairs, and replacing belts, chains, bearings and the like now will ensure that your machines are in tip-top shape come tilling and planting time.

 

Property maintenance

Many property maintenance tasks – such as pruning & clearing trees and cleaning up debris in the fields – will have to wait for at least some of this snow to melt, but it is something to jump on after the spring thaw. In the meantime, there are probably a few things to be cleaned, fixed or maintained in the barn.

 

Researching new techniques, tools, and equipment

If you have any equipment that needs to be replaced or upgraded, or if you need new gear to expand your operation, winter is a great time to do the background research and evaluate your options. And because ag is a progressive business, there are always new ideas, farming techniques, input products and strategies, technology, and other new research to explore and consider. A few of our recent blogs delve into some of the latest trends, tech and techniques that are generating a buzz in the industry.

 

Attending ag shows

There are numerous farm shows and ag conferences throughout the off season – like the upcoming March Classic. These events give you a way to augment your research by attending expert seminars and visiting the expo floor to check out new products, technology, and equipment in person. There is no better opportunity to compare options and ask questions. These events also offer the chance to network with your peers and find out what has been working (or not working) for them.

PROSeeds at CK Farm Show 2017

 

Taxes and paperwork

Nobody likes taxes or paperwork, but both need to get done some time, and these onerous tasks are best tackled when you don’t have the distractions that are abundant during the growing season. So spread out that paperwork, sort it, update it, and file it or send it to your accountant. It’s also a good time to catch up with your landowner or tenants, deal with rent payments, sign new lease agreements, and organize all the paperwork you need for your dealer or seed supplier.

 

Budgeting

Beyond just handling your taxes, one of the most important things to accomplish during the cold months is number crunching. Tallying up revenues and expenses to quantify your farm’s profit or loss from 2016 helps you to figure out what and how much to plant, what to do the same, and what to do differently in 2017. Another key input into this process is projecting market trends and grain price prospects. While this is a guessing game, tools like the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) commodities reports and market trends are helpful. This information can provide some guidance, but of course the surest way to succeed is to select varieties and hybrids that typically grow well on your farm.

 

Planning for #plant17

Business practices and tools are not the only things that need to be researched. One of the most important decisions any crop farmer needs to make is: “What varieties will I plant this year?” Plot results and product data are readily available to help you identify which varieties and hybrids will perform best on your farm, delivering high yield and maximum return on investment (ROI). For example, check out our dynamic product pages, which provide you with growing and performance information, variety/hybrid characteristics and highlights, and the ability to do product comparisons.

 

Meeting with your suppliers, seed companies and dealers

While there is a lot of product information available online, nothing beats meeting with your suppliers, seed companies, and dealers to get the lowdown on the best seed and input products for your farm. Taking the time now to select the best products – and negotiate the best deals – allows you to hit the ground running when spring finally arrives.

 

We hope the winter has been, and continues to be, productive for you and your farming operation – and we look forward to serving your corn and soybean needs in 2017. If you have any questions as planting season approaches, we’re always happy to hear from you.