Start plans for 2017 now

How is building a skyscraper like planning for the next crop year?

Have you ever gotten to watch a skyscraper being built? First, you might notice that all the initial work is below the surface.

When you’re building a skyscraper, the foundation and everything that’s going to ensure that the building will stand firm takes the longest to build. There’s a lot of work going on underground, before anything can be seen above ground level.

As a farmer, you’ve experienced this firsthand. When you plant a seed in the ground, you don’t expect it to emerge the very next day. The root system needs time to form first. I think planning for the farm’s future – and the next crop year – is very similar to building a skyscraper or growing a crop.

The right start

There’s a lot of thought and planning that needs to happen long before the crop year begins – before any crop plans are made or any inputs are purchased. However, we only get the chance to make these plans to impact our farm’s success once each year.

Think of it as if you’re planning to build a skyscraper. The taller the building is going to be, and the more well-built you want it to be, the longer it takes to lay the foundation. For farms, that means starting early on plans for the next crop year and spending the right amount of time refining them.

Right now – midsummer of the previous year – is the best time to start planning for the next crop year. That’s how you get the best chance to make the biggest impact and lay the right foundation for the 2017 crop year.

This is when you have the opportunity to choose the right structures and make decisions to build on securely throughout the rest of the year, before the crop year ‘emerges’ from below ground.

Now is the time

Decide to start getting the right foundation built for the next year. It may seem tough to start that foundation now, while the current crop is still out there and you don’t yet know how everything is going to turn out.

Think of it like this: You currently have one skyscraper in progress. It’s nearing the halfway point of completion, or maybe it’s already more than halfway done, but floors continue to be added. Likewise, the current crop in the field continues to grow and mature.

Starting the foundation work now for your next skyscraper can help put you in the best possible position for the next year – and can also help you make the right decisions as this year’s crop moves toward maturity and harvest. As conditions and factors change, your plan can remain flexible to take advantage of any new opportunities that come up.

You might talk with an advisor who can help you start putting together some of these key plans for next year. This might be a business plan, forward-looking financial projection, or plans to get the right people and processes in place on your farm.

Read the new issue of the Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader. This issue features a pre-harvest legacy checklist, how to build your farm’s team, and ideas on planning for your farm’s future. Get your free online issue here.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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