Misplaced Optimism?

Farmers are the eternal optimists, but where you place your optimism is very telling

To put seed in the ground every spring, battling Mother Nature and the elements of the markets, farmers must be eternal optimists, or big gamblers. I've noticed that where we place our optimism changes eventually.

Take a look at where your optimism lies this year. Is your crop looking really good? Did you do a great job of managing risk this year with just the right crop insurance? Are you bullish in the market? Are you confident of a great growing season ahead? All of these pieces fit together to build your business savvy.

Are these the same factors that had you optimistic last year? Will things change or will this year look just like last year?

Farmers who are capable business people are always innovating and constant innovation means more than just having the latest technology, practices or experimental crops. Innovation includes having an open mind that's nimble and can change when the factors of business change.

In Southern Illinois this year, I'll predict that some of the corn will be pollinating by mid-June. Mid-June! It's an incredibly early crop in some places. What does that mean to your business? To me, an early crop has a higher probability of being a big crop. Farmers are typically pessimistic about crop size, and the possibility always exists that we could see some kind of a crop disaster. We'll have to see what the weather brings at pollination time.

We're finding that many farmers have very little of their crop sold at the elevator. In my mind that's an indicator of a lot of bullish attitude out there still. We remember grazing up against $8 corn last year. The number is round and sticks in our minds. We hold onto that optimism. But what if this is a huge crop? And what if things don't get any better in Greece and Spain and Italy? Is it time to switch your optimism to another place? Did you consider that this could happen when you made your insurance purchases? Have you thought about what $3.30 corn might do to your balance sheet if you produce a lot of it?

It could be time to rethink where you're placing your optimism.

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