What Crop Production Challenges Will Farmers Face in 2019?

Crop Production

As we prepare for the New Year, it is always good to look ahead to see what some crop production issues and challenges farmers may face in 2019. As happens every year, there will likely be some good, some bad and some in-between. There also will likely be some challenges no one saw coming.

While certainly not an exhaustive list, here are just some of the things that may be on the horizon:

  1. Farmers will be more proactive about weed management. Waterhemp and marestail are two problems for soybean farmers and are expected to remain challenging. Velvetleaf is expected make a comeback, as well. This means that preemergence residual herbicide is critical to keep weeds from emerging in the first place.
  2. Farmers wrestling with soybean cyst nematodes (SCN) should get a break. When the same weed control measure is used over and over, resistance may develop. Thankfully, there are more high-yielding SCN-resistant varieties, giving farmers options they have not had in the past.
  3. Weather conditions mean cornfields need to be assessed for stalk strength. Corn diseases fueled by weather conditions mean that if northern corn leaf blight (NCLB) troubled your corn-on-corn yields in 2018, a plant hybrid that tolerates it better is necessary in 2019. Frogeye leaf spot, which targets soybeans, doesn’t resist strobilurin fungicides so that will continue to be a strong management tool for soybeans.
  4. Credit lines will be heavily scrutinized. Bankers looking at credit lines may not like what they see. Many farmers will have more than a few bad years in a row and this can lower their chance of securing loans.
  5. Farmers may be tempted to go off label when it comes to water spray volume. Farmers tempted to cut back on water volume in sprayers in an effort to increase efficiency and lower costs may find it backfires in terms of control and traits.
  6. Input vs. commodity prices weighs heavily on farmers’ minds. To break even, farmers need big yields. Even if big yields are achieved, storage issues arise. Farmers won’t scrimp on seed costs, however, since varieties are essential to success.

There are serious challenges for farmers going into 2019 but that doesn’t mean that things can’t turn around. After all, farmers know better than anyone that just when you think things are getting better, they get worse and when you are expecting the worst, you are often pleasantly surprised!