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The Management Calendar

Authors as Published

Gordon Groover (, Extension Economist, Farm Management, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech 

As you start the new crop season make a special effort to keep production records on crops, livestock, forages, and pastures.  The combination of production and financial records opens up a new level of management control; for example, cost per ton of forage, breakeven prices and yields, and average monthly cost per cwt of milk.  This information can be used to help direct profitable use of fertilizers or feed to more profitable fields or animals.  The first step is to make a wish list of items you know would be useful if you just had the data or information.  Next ask extension agents, neighbors, lenders, and leaders in your industry what software they use and why, and make sure to ask what’s good and bad about using the program to get basic data.  Then narrow down the list to ones that look promising.  Select one to test and make sure that the company honors the 30-day trial period.  Make sure you enter data, test out how data is downloaded from monitors (yours and custom operators), test out the pre-program analysis features, see if you can design custom analysis, and make sure that the software has trend analysis for multiple year comparisons.  Test drive the software and if it meets your needs put it to use along side your financial record keeping system.

Listed below are the items that need to be included on the farm business managers' calendar for spring of 2009.

  • Make sure your Virginia state income taxes are postmarked by May 1.
  • Review first quarter livestock records and compare them to last year’s; look for problems and successes. 
  • Livestock producers should develop a detailed feed budget for all of 2010 and winter 2011.  Include current feed costs, estimate this year’s production under average and drought conditions, and estimate demand until 2011.  Deficits should be addressed now. First, look locally for alternatives.  For example, can you contract with a neighbor to buy their forages or grains, can you rent additional lands, can you work with a grain farmer to harvest his grains as silage, can you buy grain at harvest at a discount, consider high moisture grain storage, and so on?  Second, if you cannot find local solutions then look to reputable brokers for forages and try to line up part of your supply needs this spring.  As the season progresses, keep the budget up-to-date to make sure you have covered your feed demand one year out. 
  • Follow up with your lender to review and update your line-of-credit needs. 
  • Prepare a crop record keeping system for a new year. 
  • Update your marketing plan by collecting information on prices and world market situations.  Be sure to check with your local Farm Service Agency for changes in government programs and signup deadlines.  Review USDA and other crop and price forecasts.  All USDA reports are listed on the internet and can be viewed by going to Agency Reports on the USDA newsroom page or visit


Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.


Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Alan L. Grant, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.


April 13, 2010