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With lower commodity prices, corn and soybean growers are looking for ways to maintain high yield potential while reducing input costs. There are many differing opinions and ideas being shared across the countryside on possible ways to accomplish this. Sometimes, it creates more questions than answers. Some of your questions regarding input decisions may include: What about lower-priced seed options? What about generic herbicides? Can I reduce my herbicide and nitrogen fertilizer use rates? What about reducing my seeding rate? Should I apply sugar to my crop?
Instead of concentrating on ways to increase return on investment through reduced input costs or looking for a ‘magic potion’ to boost yields, perhaps focus on ways to increase return by maximizing profitability per bushel. For example, factoring in estimated yield, seed cost, and expected commodity price, a farmer can bring in an extra $20/acre by choosing a corn product with a 2.5% (5bu) higher yield potential. On the other hand, choosing a corn product that is 10% cheaper ($30/bag) will only save you $13/acre, illustrating how valuable genetic yield potential is to your operation.1 Yield potential can trump seed price when profitability is your goal.
So how does one maximize yield? More importantly, how does one manage for high yield potential to provide maximum return on investment? I believe the answer lies in the basics.
Here is a list of recommendations that can help you achieve such goals:
As you prepare for the 2016 growing season, make sure you have a realistic goal in mind and a solid plan to get there. If you are looking at a new recommended practice, consider the source and ask for data to substantiate the claim. Then if you do decide to try it, make sure to test it on your own farm with a side-by-side comparison. In 2016, how will you maximize profitability per bushel? What practices will you start doing, and which ones will you stop doing?
1 Calculation based upon a 2.5% yield potential increase from 200 bu/acre to 205 bu/acre with a seed cost of $300/unit and a 10% seed cost reduction from $300/unit to $270/unit with a yield potential of 200 bu/acre. All other assumed input costs remaining equal with an expected grain selling price of $3.80 per bushel. 2 Dr. Laura Lindsey, Assistant Professor, Soybean and Small Grain Production, The Ohio State University, Horticulture & Crop Science Department, Columbus, OH.