Major League Baseball Spring Training is about to start. Back in the day, I used to pay close attention to such things. New drafts, old veterans, wannabes, has-beens, and at-the-top-of-their-game players fly to Florida or Arizona for training camp, and they practice baseball all day. Coaches are paying attention to their every move, giving them tips, pointers, and encouragement on how to play better.

Yeah, there’s no spring training or practice in farming. Or in ag retail, either, for that matter.

It’s more like in an Eminem song: “You only get one shot.”

I’ve been talking with some farmers and ag retailers about putting in new systems that don’t work the way they are supposed to when the season starts. Do they get a do-over? No, because there’s no practice in farming.

Fertilizer dealers don’t practice loading fertilizer. Applicator drivers don’t practice driving 18 miles an hour between 30-inch rows. Farmers don’t waste seed running planters just to see if the planter works right. 

There is, however, a large amount of preparation in farming. Going over every piece of equipment to make sure it’s in good shape. Lining up the herbicide and fertilizer applications. Pouring over the yield books to make sure hybrid decisions are the best they can be.

Many farmers have said to me, “There’s so much yield potential in that bag. My job is to keep as much of it as I can.”

The best suppliers help farmers get ready for the season by preparing. Poor ones ask them to practice in-season. 

Preparation and flawless execution keep the potential high. Practice and fumbles destroy it quickly.

So, are you asking farmers to prepare or practice?