Farm gate value is described as the net value of the product when it leaves the farm after marketing costs have been subtracted.
However, they don't want any tropical
system or storm to damage or destroy crops that are in the field.
In March, some local farmers took a hit when a tornado swept through eastern Polk
leaving in its wake an estimated damage total of about $300,000.
"This is not a good way to begin the growing season," said Ricky Ensley, Extension coordinator.
The 2008 local growing season, unlike the past year, did get a jump start with spring moisture that continued through late May.
The needed rain for good hay and crop production did not fall during the summer, but most farmers feel this year was better than the past when little or no moisture landed on fields.
"We can't complain because we did receive more rainfall than in 2007, especially that brought by the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay," Ensley said.
Local farmers not only face the challenges dealt out by Mother Nature but also how to adapt to increasing fuel costs.
"The high cost of diesel fuel has had a negative impact on local farmers," Ensley explained. "Every time a tractor is cranked, it cuts into production costs. How to overcome this additional expense has been getting the attention of our farmers. They have had to know a crop is valuable when deciding to plant."
Corn production is expected to bring the more money. According to Ensley, corn growers are getting a good price but not those who have to use it for feed. It has been as much as $7 per bushel, which is expensive.
Due to expected prices, farmers also have acreage that has gone into wheat. About 1,000 acres has been planted. As an added bonus, soybeans are growing in the same field.
Farmers are reporting that Polk’s hay harvest (about 9,500 acres) has been good this year compared to 2007. Production is expected to double in 2008.
An estimated 1,500 acres in soybeans is expected to produce an above average harvest.
Cotton is now in the field and hopes are that production will be up. Harvest usually continues through October and November.
Ensley describes boilers as the "number one farm gate value in Polk County, adding about $15,000,000 million."
Growers are introducing new strategies to provide greater return on this segment of Polk’s agriculture base.
Two of the 50 broiler houses are now devoted to free range birds (layers) that are allowed access to the pasture.
"Traditional Ag can’t leave established markets but small farmers have to find a way to make a living," Ensley said.
He pointed out that local farmers have access to the population in metro Atlanta, a fact considered by farmers seeking a nitch where they can meet the customer’s needs.
This results in increased production by vegetable growers, who are now members
of Farmer’s Fresh. This is a network of farmers and food producers to bring homegrown vegetables to markets closer to home.
Polk’s 2007 farm gate value total for Agritourism, which includes special events and tours, was $36,665.
Forestry and related products such as Christmas trees had a farm gate value total of $578,750.
Fruits and nuts (blueberries) brought a value total of $1,340.
Livestock and aquaculture netted a $5,767,798.19 farm gate value total in Polk.
The farm gate value total for ornamental horticulture (nursery and cut flowers) was listed at $89,500.
Poultry and eggs value totaled $17,561,544 and row and forage crops, $2,058,292.60.
Vegetables netted a value of $26,455 and other commodities, $802,918.