Pre-Harvest Means Time For Reflection

Will Connell
President, Will Connell Ag. Consultant Inc.
Stokes, North Carolina (Works with nine producers
who have land in Nash, Wilson, Edgecombe, Pitt and
Martin Counties)

At an early age, I developed the interests that led me to consulting. I grew up on a small farm. We raised hogs and had a “direct to customer” vegetable operation, which paid my way to an Associate of Agriculture degree at NCSU and brought me back home. I always enjoyed the challenge of problem solving and trying to get the most out of that deep Richmond County sand.

Peer/University Input Is Invaluable

After a few years, it seemed unrealistic to count on the farm supporting two families. That coincided with becoming aware of a curriculum at NCSU focusing on the “new” concepts of IPM. I found my niche and was blessed with the opportunity to put my training to work with American Ag Services Inc., serving farmers in eastern North Carolina. With changes in business structure, I had the opportunity to begin my own business in 1988.

I am so grateful for the help and encouragement I’ve received from other consultants, especially through contacts in NAICC and NCACA. Also, much thanks for the relationship that I and others have with Extension personnel and researchers.

Looking Toward Next Year

Preparation for harvest is foremost in our thoughts at present, and I appreciate Steve Brown’s comments last month on this subject. To a large degree, I think successful producers are always preparing for next year. Always hopeful, always challenging themselves to improve. Yet, now seems to be a good time to observe and reflect on the following:

• Which decisions went well and which ones didn’t?

• How did nature impact us this year differently than before and what can be done about it?

• Exactly how much are those problem areas hurting us?

This year, in particular, I think we may have things to learn about drainage. Also, I’ve seen more damage from root-knot nematode. This may impact rotations, or at least variety choices. Although I don’t want to hint that we should become lax about pigweed, I am seeing some fields staying quite clean to the point that we need not build our variety selections predominately around weed management.

Now is the prime time to review the season while the crop is still there to observe. Sometimes, things we think we’ll remember somehow get lost once the stalks are mowed. Write them down; pursue input. I think of the help that I’ve gotten from one of my clients who frequently opens his notebook to discuss questions he has accumulated. I haven’t always known the answer, but I think we are both better for it. If yield monitoring is an option, that may help address questions of which we aren’t even aware.

I enjoy my work and consider the relationships much more valuable than mere business.

Click here to ask Will Connell a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.

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Consultant

• B.S. in Pest Management for Crop Protection, NCSU

• Member of the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC)

• Former president and current chairman of the Constitution and Membership Committee for the North Carolina Ag Consultants Association (NCACA)

• Consults on cotton, soybeans, corn, wheat, grain sorghum, peanuts, tobacco, sweet potatoes, cucumbers and clary sage

• Wife, Doris – a licensed consultant – manages financial matters and assists with research for Will Connell Ag. Consultant Inc.

• Two daughters: Carolyn and Elizabeth (husband, Duane), who have two sons, ages 3 and 1

• Enjoys spending time with friends and family

Recap: Pre-Harvest Means Time For Reflection

1. I grew up on a small farm and, at an early age, developed the interests that led me to consulting.

2. Successful producers are always preparing for next year. Always hopeful, always challenging themselves to improve.

3. Fall is a good time to reflect on the following while the crop is still in the field: Which decisions went well and which ones didn’t? How did nature impact us this year differently than before and what can be done about it? Exactly how much are those problem areas hurting us?

4. After the 2013 season, we may have things to learn about drainage.

5. I’ve also seen more damage from root-knot nematode, which may impact rotation or at least variety choices.

6. As for pigweed, I am seeing some fields staying quite clean to the point that we need not build our variety selections predominately around weed management.

7. Write down thoughts about the past season and pursue input.

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