View From Here

October 2020

Tim Robinson

It’s been a hot, mostly dry summer and we are still navigating our way through one of the most utterly challenging periods witnessed in most of our lifetimes. A troubling virus, western wildfires, wide area drought-stricken conditions, turbulent times in our cities and towns, prescribed isolation, a plethora of rules and regulations affecting normal daily behavior, and so much more to create anxiety and angst amongst us.

Muhammad Ali said, “It is not the mountains ahead that wear you out; it is the pebble in your shoe.” For some of us, describing the current irritants as a pebble would seem too minute of a description for what is chafing us.

For sure, the world as we knew it changed rapidly around us and there is yet more change likely to come our way. We might shop differently, alter our dining experience, change the way we move around, or look at the social aspects of life in a different light. However, our overall need for food, fiber and liquid nourishment has not been reduced in any significant amount. The world population has not shrunk and the demand for renewable resources has not gone away. The future of farming as a basic industry necessary for human survival has maintained its position on the world stage.

The business of production agriculture continues to move ahead here in the Southwest remaining a staunch contributor to our community’s economic viability. As some of the best in the business, professional agriculturists in the desert Southwest have continued moving the production needle forward at the pace necessary to supply the food and fiber chains.

There is little opportunity for our producer’s teams and our own staff to work from home or in an isolated office space most days of the week. We have seen the best of social distancing, individual participation in cleaning and masking, excellent online discussions, and overall tolerance of the rules laid down for us throughout the entire agronomic circle.    

The current cotton crop is most likely going to come off at or above average yield, even considering the heat units applied this past summer. Outward appearances are healthy and a few steps into close by fields show promising bowl sets slated to open into a consistent crop of cotton come picking season. With September a normal time frame for shutting the water down in most fields, early October should see the initial harvest start up in Central Arizona.

Corn chopping in Central Arizona came off quickly with no disturbing weather phenomena to set the harvest or the crop back. Yields were respectable and the quality of the crop was reported as top notch. The choppers are winding through silage acres in Southeast Arizona and should be done in time for the combines to begin on the dried grain crop. In between we should see a decent harvest of pinto beans being taken to the plant.

Alfalfa growing and harvest has wound through the seasonal ups and downs with decent yields, mostly unaffected by summer monsoons, and good baling conditions. However, good the supply side is, the demand side is offsetting the equation. Exportation of good alfalfa has slowed some and created a bit of an oversupply in some instances. While cattle feeding, horse owners, ranchers and the dairy industry all remained viable consumers, the fifth leg of the stool was weak enough to drop prices late summer.

The dairy industry saw some positive upticks in milk and cheese pricing during a 2-month run and this restored a little positivity into the business. However, the upside, while big, was short lived and lately prices have settled back down into what is considered a mediocre at best range. Cattle men have seen pressure on their market animals as packing plants continue to limit intake. Combined, between the dairy and cattle feeding industry total animals on feed remains a robust number and a strain on the prices these producers receive. Of course, this lowered price is not witnessed by the consumer buying beef off the shelf as the same packing industry has helped keep their retail pricing profitable.

Tree and vine growers are coming into the end of their season with wine grape harvest in mid-season and nuts beginning to mature on the limb. All in all, the crops look good again considering the heat units applied to them this summer. Appearances are that the supply of stored nuts have gotten thinned out and a normal pricing is in line for this fall and winter. However, the optimists are hoping that exports will open back up and the flow of nuts will help drive wholesale pricing back up to levels experienced a few years back.

Produce ground is being worked and planted for the upcoming winter salad mix. Acres are being tallied as growers adjust for the uncertainty of a consumer who is rightly confused about what they are going to be eating and where they will be eating it. While the demand for food remains driven by a growing population, the delivery of end product is certainly searching for what plate it will end up on and how it will get there.

With corn, grain, and cotton coming off, tillage season lies just ahead. High horsepower tractors and high strength implements are the tools to take the stage next. Plus, we have at least another 60 days of alfalfa to harvest before we shut down for winter. The Empire support team has always stepped up to help our loyal clients control input costs and this year we are digging even deeper into the discount bucket to drive your costs down more than ever. Our product support sales reps and parts and service teams are on call for you, ready to provide the quotes you need to help understand the current condition of your machinery.

We are 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.


It’s been quoted by many in different ways but for sure we can agree now that “What lies in front of us is always more important than what is behind us.” The entire team at Empire remains on the ready to help serve our clients when they need us most. Please, as always work smart, remain safe, and know that we’ll always be here with you.


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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