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Current Farm Economy Prompts Crop Changes, Business Adaptations

A global glut of grain is one of the key contributors to the economic downturn in farming. (Michal Jarmoluk/Pixabayy)
A global glut of grain is one of the key contributors to the economic downturn in farming. (Michal Jarmoluk/Pixabayy)
July 28, 2017

AMES, Iowa – The cost of farming is extremely high these days, the price of the products produced remarkably low and, as even a novice to agriculture can deduce, that means tough times.

But 65-year-old farmer Don Holcomb says there are ways to lessen the pain and prepare for the future. On his farm, he’s found that adding a crop to his usual rotation can be beneficial.

"Plant wheat in the fall, we harvest it in June,” he explains. “Plant soybeans, then we harvest the soybeans in October, maybe, and plant corn again the following spring. So we get three crops in two years."

Holcomb notes that planting three crops has cut down on the number of weed pests that is typical with fewer rotations.

Holcomb, who will be a presenter at a gathering of Practical Farmers of Iowa in August, says the current downturn pales in comparison with the 1980s farm crisis when interest rates were more than triple the current rate. Still, he says, pain is pain.

Holcomb maintains it's necessary to view farming through a lens of adaptability. He says he avoids thinking of himself as a person in the wheat and soybean business. Instead, he thinks of himself as being in the food business. The latter, he says, can open your mind to new possibilities.

"If you think of yourself as being in the food business, you not only are growing what's adaptable to your area, but you got to also keep in the back of your mind what your customer or consumer wants to buy," he explains.

Holcomb notes that different climates, elevations and soils impact whether a farm can add an additional crop, but the broader mindset he employs is applicable in all environments.

Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - IA