How to Use Crop Choice$

  From the May 8, 2017 Issue of Agri-News
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 CropChoice$ is an advanced crop planning and budgeting software tool that is updated every year with current crop insurance information from the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) and projected crop costs. It calculates expected margins for different cropping scenarios as well as the probabilities of achieving those results.

“With many crops to choose from based on soil fertility, moisture, prices and margins, planning is important,” says Emmanuel Anum Laate, senior crop economist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF). “CropChoice$ can help producers decide what crops to grow and how many acres, determine whether they will make money by growing these crops, and evaluate the risks associated with growing them.”

CropChoice$ also allows producers to adjust their individual crop costs and evaluate the effects of different risk management strategies, such as adjusting their crop mix, purchasing crop insurance, and renegotiating their land rental agreements.

Producers can decide which crops to grow by following eight steps:

1) Download the program from AF’s website, double click on the CropChoice$ icon and choose ‘start’ from the welcome screen to go directly to the Main Input Screen.

2) At the top right of the main input screen, enter your Township, Range, Meridian and Soil Zone information. Once this is done, CropChoice$ determines the list of crops available in your area.

3) Select the crops you want to grow and chose whether it is going to be on stubble, fallow or irrigated land. Cropchoice$ provides producers with the ability to choose from 40 different dry land and irrigated crops and handles up to 32 fields.

4) Enter the number of acres, worst possible, best possible and most likely yields and prices for each crop you want to grow.

5) Once the crops are selected, the program automatically enters default costing information based on soil zone, crop type and cultivation practice. Review the numbers carefully and update them with your own cropping and financial information. Once completed, this crop plan becomes the base scenario or scenario 1 of the producer.

6) Click the Run Simulation button on the left side of the screen. After a few seconds, the Scenario Analysis screen will appear.

7) Click on the Input Data Preview icon. After a few seconds, a report appears. At the bottom of this report, contribution margins and gross margins for individual crops are listed.

8) Choose crops with high contribution margins. If the fields involved are on rented land, the gross margins may come into play.

Laate says CropChoice$ also give users probabilities for achieving margins for different cropping plans and scenarios. “The ability to compare multiple scenarios against a base scenario is what makes CropChoice$ analyses extremely valuable.”

To create additional scenarios, go to the Main Input screen, click on the Scenario number drop-down box and choose the next number. “You can copy the inputs from a previous scenario by just following the instructions as they appear. Subsequently, you can create new scenarios by making changes such as varying the crop mix, adding acres, adjusting crop insurance choices or switching to alternate land rental options. Name each scenario appropriately once it’s created.

“Next, run a simulation for each new scenario by clicking on the Run Simulation button at the top left of the Main Input Screen. The Scenario Analysis screen appears after each simulation.

“Finally, compare the expected gross margins and standard deviations which is a statistical measure of risk for each scenario. Choose the scenario or crop plan that best fit your expected gross margin and risk profile.”

Laate says there is a lot of value in building different cropping scenarios.

“Well, the initial value comes from narrowing down your options to find the mix of crops that gives you the highest possible profitability while maintaining agronomic stability and your own risk preferences. One of the bonuses of creating a primary crop plan is that it helps you to know what your second best option is to help with contingency planning. Once the drill is in the ground you don’t have time to evaluate any last minute options, and choosing the wrong option can be costly.”

Crop Choice$ is available as a free download from AF’s website.

“It’s very easy to set up and use and it comes with an excellent user guide that can assist producers to run the program.” says Laate. “Once CropChoice$ is downloaded, just double click on the icon and choose ‘start’ from the welcome screen and you’re ready to create and compare crop plans.”

For more information about CropChoice$, call the Alberta Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM (3276).

Alberta Ag-Info Centre
310-FARM (3276)

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Emmanuel Laate.
This document is maintained by Ken Blackley.
This information published to the web on April 27, 2017.