Like the saying goes-if it was easy money then everyone would want to do it, notes John Gnadke, a quality grains specialist with AGS, Inc., Ankeny, Iowa.
"Before jumping into a specialty crop market a producer really needs to make a list of positives and negatives regarding various value-added production opportunities," says Gnadke
."Location, equipment, facilities, management style and flexibility are all part of the value-added equation."As a former pilot, Gnadke compares today's specialty grains market to flying.
"Flying a plane is serious business.One little mistake can cost you your life," says Gnadke
According to Gnadke
, worn parts such as thin augers, loose chains and out-of-round concaves all add up to losses in quality.
That's why Gnadke
suggests to stop unloading before running a grain tank empty-the result: an overall improvement in deliverable quality.
says that new combines are greatly improved in terms of their quality performance compared to their older model predecessors.However, it is beyond the combine where many producers fall short of the quality bar.
"Through the years as farms have gotten larger, producers have expanded and upgraded their machinery but their grain handling system is basically the same as it was a generation ago," notes Gnadke
says more growers need to look at simpler, more economical systems such as smaller bins with a belt conveyor as the main means of transferring a crop.
suggests newcomers to the value-added business start with a maximum of 10 to 20 percent of total acreage committed to premium contracts the first year.After that you can build on your successes.Once you have the experience, the tools and the facilities in the specialty arena, it becomes much easier to grab on to new opportunities.
"The key to success in the value-added business is being able to substitute the emphasis on production to an emphasis on professionalism," says Gnadke