EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Randy Kron, farmer and president of Indiana Farm Bureau, is balancing leading the organization while checking in on his family farm this spring.
Progress has been slow, but planting is nearing completion on the farm. He shared his story with AgriNews.
Q: Tell me about your family farm.
A: Joyce and I are a first-generation farm. Our son, Ben, is now running a lot more of the farm along with Joyce, while I serve as Farm Bureau president.
I still like to get home and run tractors and combines. I joke that it’s therapy to get away from Indianapolis and get in a tractor.
Q: What do you grow?
A: We’re a white corn, yellow corn and soybean farm. White corn is under contract. With the river there, it can be exported to Mexico or South Africa.
We also have a contract with a local mill that makes different products. We farm in Vanderburgh and Gibson counties.
Q: What’s the land like where you farm?
A: We farm a lot of the Wabash River bottoms. That makes it a little more challenging. We irrigate some of our crops, probably a third of it.
Q: What concerns come with a late planting?
A: As you get later, you start thinking about yield decreases. We still have potential for good yields, planting late. But the odds start going down.
Planting a little later in southern Indiana, we tend to have more disease pressure. So, that means scouting fields a lot more, watching for any diseases that are moving in. We pretty much always do a fungicide treatment once a year.
With it being a later planting, I don’t know if that will mean a second fungicide treatment. We’ll have to monitor, scout and see. We’ll have to be careful and keep our eye on what’s happening in the fields.
Q: What other challenges are there?
A: With the high input costs, we need to have some average to above average yields just to break even. You read a lot about the fertilizer side. But pretty well everything has gone up. And fuel is extremely high.
With what’s going on in the world, we’re trying to lock in prices so that we don’t lose these good prices. But when you plant later, it’s tough to know how much to sell ahead of time. Because there’s a little more uncertainty about what yields you’re going to get.
Q: How are supply chain problems affecting your operation?
A: So far, we’ve been able to get everything we need. Normally we would have things ahead of time. We haven’t had any glitches. It helps that we’ve had a delayed planting season. We haven’t had a big rush all at one time. We’ve been fortunate.
We have the herbicides and fungicides that Ben wanted to use. No doubt, we’ve cut back a little bit. We’re more into maintenance mode on the fertilizer side. Knock on wood, it’s been OK.
We’ve heard a lot of fears of what might be happening. But I think our co-op systems, our suppliers have all worked pretty hard to make sure we have what we need.
Q: How are high fuel costs affecting farmers?
A: It subtracts from the bottom line. We’re trying to cut down trips. It’s expensive. When you’re $4 or $5 a gallon, it adds up. Bigger tractors run 22 to 25 gallons an hour. You burn a lot of dollars pretty quickly.
Q: Are you doing anything different on the farm this year?
A: We’re doing more minimal tillage. We’ve always no-tilled our soybeans. We’re trying to minimize the trips across the field. Just to burn the least amount of fuel without sacrificing yields.
Q: Is the summer a busy time of year?
A: Yes. Once planting gets done, Farm Bureau has a fair amount of policy meetings. On the farm, especially after a late planting, it condenses the time you have to get everything done before harvest. It’s a faster pace.