View From Here Spring 2021

It’s been a mostly dry winter in the desert Southwest and it appears that little in the way of excessive moisture lies ahead on the immediate horizon. Good news for row crop producers either planting or harvesting, but not so good news for ranchers counting on winter rains to produce spring grasses. It is one dry firecracker across all levels of the desert with the only real moisture coming to the higher elevations in the form of snow.

We have now undergone one full year of navigating our way through an utterly challenging period that has been witnessed in most of our lifetimes. And the tail to this dragon is one of the most damaging interruptions to the worldwide distribution channels possibly ever imagined in modern times.

The disruptions to manufacturing, transportation and assembly is being felt almost hourly. Our search for solutions to the supply of machines, repair parts, routine service items and related pieces to the puzzle of the industrial complexes surrounding our daily lives is as different as it has ever been.

Tim Robinson

Regardless, production agriculture in this great country and wonderful state continues to march onward into the fray of a fractured supply chain. The professionals in this business arena are known for taking difficult tasks on every day and delivering the earth’s population an abundance of the safest food and fiber products ever available.

Currently, the winter grain crops are greening up fields with some amount of both barley and durum wheat planted across the valleys. Wheat price in general has rallied this past quarter and the hope is that the durum prices will follow. Barley crop values follow feed corn price, which is in a good place today.

Tree and vine production in Arizona increased incrementally over the past decade and has become an important crop in SE Arizona. The pecan and pistachio harvests are complete and springtime orchard work is winding down. Trees are pruned, beds prepped, and water is on the way to begin another season of nut production.

Ground for the 2021 cotton crop is mostly worked, rows made and set for water to begin the pre-irrigation cycle. Spikes in prices recently point to increases in acres across the cotton belt. Silage corn planting has been moving along as this crop gets a jump on cotton seeds and the acres appear steady across the dairy belt.

The 2021 Alfalfa crop is coming out of winter dormancy and is growing with the first baling set to ramp up beginning in the west and winding east. Local sales and the exportation of good alfalfa has helped stabilize pricing at the $200 a ton level or better, depending on quality. Machine repairs and deliveries are indicating a strong alfalfa season.

The dairy industry saw some minor upticks in milk and cheese pricing, but prices are still below the norm. Cattle feeders still feel pricing pressure on their market animals as packing plants continue to limit intake. Coupled with the lack of moisture to produce range feed and the high cost of commercial feeds, the outlook for the Southwestern beef producer appears handicapped to start 2021.

Produce harvesting is in full swing in the winter salad bowl. Greens are coming off in all sections of the growing belts between Imperial Valley and Eastern Maricopa County. As springtime temperatures arrive, we will wind this season down and follow with watermelon and cantaloupe seasons. Like most of the agricultural industry but especially so in the dairy and produce markets, the ability to harvest is becoming more precarious and negatively affected by the lack of a willing labor force.

The strong commodity prices we are beginning 2021 with are a much-needed boost in the general ag economy. Receiving a fair price in return for their commitment and effort at providing the world with a safe and reliable supply of basic human needs should be expected, but not always delivered. We look forward to the season ahead with the positive nature of the agricultural business where it is today.

Our product support sales reps and parts and service teams have remained on call for you, ready to provide the quotes you need to help understand the current condition of your machinery. We remain here at each location tending to the delivery of machines, providing timely parts and service support and helping with financial challenges where we can. We are here to help support your agricultural needs and to push forward during these big challenges.


Empire Agriculture has been part of the southwestern agriculture community since 1950.

As an Arizona-based, family owned company, we have a unique understanding of the critical role that growers play in our communities and economies. We salute your dedication to our industry, and are committed to providing the machines, technologies and resources you need to succeed in every season.

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