Tax Breaks May Help You Fund Farming Upgrades

by BRAD WEIHRAUCH
October 2013

Automation has brought major changes to agriculture. As we invest in chemical application, injection, equipment, and maintenance, we should consider taking advantage of generous federal income tax deductions to offset our costs.

When we lease, finance, or buy qualifying equipment and office software, we need to consider Section 179 of the U.S. tax codes. We need to learn about it, how it works, and what qualifies for deductions. It’s important to know how it can help us become more profitable.

Informed purchasing decisions greatly influence our bottom line, so you’ll want to consider potential deductions as you weigh any decision to update or upgrade. Section 179 may keep you from going into debt to fund new equipment, or at least minimize that debt.

Be sure to run your ideas past your accountant to get the most up-to-date information. And consider your options carefully.

You may find there’s no need to put off upgrading that old equipment. Newer, more efficient equipment may pay for itself sooner than you think, especially with help from Uncle Sam. You’ll find more information about Section 179 here: http://www.section179.org/

Citrus Update: What You Need to Know to Maximize Your Potential

by BRAD WEIHRAUCH
September 2013

Before we know it, it will be time to harvest the citrus fruit we’ve worked hard all year to grow. When we do, we need to consider more than price. We need to consider the potential effect of citrus greening: Fruit drop.

If fruit drop takes 20 percent of the fruit early, it won’t be worth waiting for a price 10 percent higher. We need to recognize fruit is not holding on our trees like they did in the past.

But you should take time to verify insurance, check the license status of harvesters and/or buyers, ask for references, read the contracts, and consider the time between picking and payment.

More than ever, we need to consider who actually is harvesting and responsible for payment—as well as when the buyer intends to harvest. Even when we have established relationships, we may find we are dealing with subcontract crews. It is important for you to limit the number of people between your crop and your money. You need a working knowledge of where and how your crop is moved from tree to processor.

Just before harvest also is the time to flag poor performing trees. Like the late Bobby Lanier once told me, we are not in the business of growing leaves. We need a tree to do more than look good. It’s got to produce.

Grower’s Update: Maintaining Water Lines Important for an Effective Spray Program

by BRAD WEIHRAUCH
August 2013

Improperly calibrated equipment can quickly dissolve a grower’s checkbook. Many of us recognize that. But no matter how careful we are with calibration, it won’t do much good if we don’t successfully deliver those chemicals and other materials.

For example, growers are gravitating to aggressive spray and injection programs to battle disease and boost profits. Yet lack of line maintenance can undermine those efforts. We can’t expect our investment to pay off like it should if we don’t also invest in upkeeping our lines. When irrigation jets are clogged or missing, when there is no uniformity in the delivery method, we are not getting the job done right.
It’s best to work on our waterlines before we do injections. Yes, there are labor expenses, but we save on the chemicals we would waste because they were improperly applied. So set an aggressive budget for waterlines and be willing to spend what it takes – before beginning those injections.
Liquid fertilizers can easily dislodge algae and other organisms in your lines. Flush every line. And instruct your sprayer operator to check and see if every sprayer jet is working properly.

BIO: Brad Weihrauch is a Polk County native.  He grew up around a family business of agriculture and customer service.  After Winter Haven High School, he went on to complete his education at Polk Community College and Warner Southern.  After serving 17 years in customer service for a large retailer, Weihrauch returned to his agriculture roots and founded RWC, an agri-service and management company, in 2002.

Dealing with HLB: Learning Lessons from the Past

by BRAD WEIHRAUCH
July 2013

My late grandfather used to tell me, “There’s no future in the past . . . but “there ARE lessons for the future from the past.” I was reminded of his words after riding citrus groves with St. Cloud growers, who were impressed by the size and health of our reset trees.
As the citrus industry battles the deadly bacterial disease Huanglongbing (HLB), we’ve put extra care into reset trees. Although there have been great strides in short-term HLB management, a cure remains elusive.
When I rode out with these growers, I recalled a bean crop that didn’t produce as well as anticipated. We had looked at the soil, seed, planting, watering, and daily notes— everything I could think of— to find the reason.
Citrus and beans are two separate crops, but they’ve had similar problems. In part, the condition of some mature citrus trees— and their decline— was because I waited too long to remove them before planting resets and adopting newer caretaking methods.  Because the planting-to-picking time on row crops was shorter, the lesson was learned faster with beans, but it was as costly.
I encourage growers to make journals and keep notes. Order seed so they will be fresh and available at planting time. Have citrus resets on order and use the latest caretaking methods. Invest time in resets, rather than in exhausted trees. With the struggles growers face, we must work on our future, not sit around and worry about our past.

BIO: Brad Weihrauch is a Polk County native.  He grew up around a family business of agriculture and customer service.  After Winter Haven High School, he went on to complete his education at Polk Community College and Warner Southern.  After serving 17 years in customer service for a large retailer, Weihrauch returned to his agriculture roots and founded RWC, an agri-service and management company, in 2002.

Summer Storms: Plan Ahead to Protect Your Property

By Brad Weihrauch
June 2013

Judging by the weather and weather forecasts, we are beginning to enter our rainy season. With an above-average Hurricane forecast for the 2013 season, it’s time to get ready!

Check all canals, culverts, and drainage ditches to ensure water will flow properly when we have extra rainfall. Also check the structural integrity of your barns and buildings; some may need to be reinforced or repaired to survive winds and rain from summer storms.  Ride your fence lines and remove weak trees, or trees that may fall on a fence during a storm. You don’t want to round up livestock and mend fences in a summer squall. It’s dangerous and should not be necessary if you take proper precautions ahead of time.

You also may want to sit down with your insurance agent and review your storm coverage.  Some companies may have changed their coverage on storm-related damage, or they may be in the process of doing so. You need to know what you would be required to pay in the event of damage from a destructive storm.

When a storm comes, we often focus on protecting our families and our home. But preparing your land for the upcoming summer rain/hurricane season is important too. Plan ahead to protect it.

BIO: Brad Weihrauch is a Polk County native.  He grew up around a family business of agriculture and customer service.  After Winter Haven High School, he went on to complete his education at Polk Community College and Warner Southern.  After serving 17 years in customer service for a large retailer, Weihrauch returned to his agriculture roots and founded RWC, an agri-service and management company, in 2002.