Which Crop Should I Plant for 2018?

Which Crop Should I Plant for 2018?

Just before the 2017 harvest, some attention turns to next year’s budgets.  Preliminary thoughts and plans begin to take shape for next year’s crops.  Next year should we plant more acres in soybeans or in corn?  Do we keep the crop rotation as we have in the past?  Many producers are 50% in corn and 50% in soybeans.  The various seed company test plots are good starting places to see new and old varieties, and how they are performing.  Between now and the Farm Science Review, many farmers are attending field days to get more information.  New prices are a key question for the budgets as well. 

In 2017, acres shifted in the U. S., some in favor of more soybeans, due mainly to better net incomes for per acre as compared to corn.  The wet and rainy planting season made perhaps even a few more acres than initially were planned go to soybeans, just due to rather late planting dates.  Once into June, corn became less of the conclusion as to which crop to plant.  As of this blog in September of 2017, the soybean budgets still now lean a bit more to the side of soybeans, unless we can achieve that extra good corn yield.  It may be acres that have consistently just done better in corn production. 

Jim Hanna
Wilmington, OH

A few farmers grow more soybeans, just mainly because they have less total money per acre in the crop.  With back to back soybean plantings, farmers must factor in added disease / insect pressure and certainly any added weed pressure.  Continuous corn carries extra issues and risks as well.  The long-time, year to year corn to soybean crop rotation does seem to help reduce those nagging problems. 

This time of year does allow us to already have a good handle on all the crop inputs for this year’s crops, save for the harvest period expenses.  But at least for now, the bulk of the 2017 crop expenses are in.  An analysis of breakeven yields and breakeven costs is time well spent to help plan for another year. Compiling those to date will leave very little yet to update as the harvest concludes.  Good budgeting is key simply due to pre-pay discounts that farmers can gain by early orders and early pay on all the major inputs: seed, fertilizer and chemicals. 

Recent budget numbers (without land costs or cash rent included) including some $$ for labor and management have mostly been in the range of $450 to $525 per acre for corn and from $250 to $310 for an acre of soybeans.  Add in your rents / land costs and see where you are.  It helps to run the breakeven numbers at several yield and price levels.