It's no small feat to efficiently grow 429-bu. irrigated corn, especially when your watershed heads to the Chesapeake Bay. But Charles City, VA, corn-yield champ David Hula used stewardship and intensive management of his no-till ground to win the 2011 National Corn Growers Association yield contest.
With current world soybean inventory very tight, combined with a smaller forecasted South American crop, no one knows how long $13/bu. and higher futures prices will stick around, says Chris Hurt, Purdue University Extension agricultural economist.
Soil quality is the most important base layer for all farm production decisions. That includes decisions about yield goals, plant populations, fertility programs and hybrid genetics, says Clay Mitchell, a Harvard-educated corn and soybean grower, futurist and new technology guru from Buckingham, IA.
Despite skyrocketing land costs that steer some farmers toward more corn acres than soybeans in 2012, soybeans may be the more profitable crop for the long-term, says Chad Hart, Iowa State University agricultural economist.
Conservation has revealed itself to be quite profitable for Joe Zenz, Lancaster, WI, who topped the 2011 Non-irrigated Wisconsin Soybean Yield Contest at 92.8 bu./acre, with no-till drilled beans. "This was the first time I entered the contest, which is now in its second year," says Zenz, who planted his contest field on May 1 with Asgrow 2403 RR seed. "I knew the field had good potential, even though the fertility had been fairly low on this farm. Five years ago it was in the Conservation Reserve Program. For the first three years after the field was in CRP, I no-tilled corn into it, and I've been adding fertility to it pretty aggressively."
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signups start in one month, but economic pressures could be tempting many farmers to choose crops rather than conservation, says Paul Kassel, Iowa State University Extension field agronomist. "With grain prices and land prices as high as they are now, the economic situation may be causing farmers to return any retiring CRP acres into corn and soybean production," says Kassel. "However, before farmers do so, they need to make sure they have a realistic yield expectation. Former CRP ground typically has less yield potential than other land, due to soil type."
Last year marked the fifth consecutive record for U.S. soybean exports, and 2012 could topple that record again – if all the right economic conditions align, says Darrel Good, University of Illinois agricultural economist.
The corn profit picture for 2012 isn’t quite as rosy as 2011, but the marketplace could still offer very lucrative returns for growing corn this season, says Chad Hart, Iowa State University agricultural economist.
With the possibility of another La Niña weather pattern lingering into 2012, farmers in the Upper Midwest may be facing another hot, dry summer, similar to 2011 that could bring about disappointing results for some corn and soybean growers, according to Drew Lerner, World Weather Inc., owner and meteorologist. Lerner notes that corn is often impacted first by La Niña, but its effect is also a function of when planting occurs.
Farmers in the Midwest may want to pray for more balmy water temperatures off Peru’s equatorial coast. Colder-than-normal seas in this region indicate that a La Niña weather event is still stewing that could negatively alter rainfall and temperature patterns elsewhere, including the U.S. Corn Belt – similar to what occurred during summer 2011.
A slouching national and global economy isn’t stopping a South Dakota farmer and farm-business developer David Kolsrud from trying to create jobs and successful businesses in rural America. Kolsrud is the founder and owner of a new membership investment group, called “The Funding Farm,” which recently announced its goal “to unite local investors in America’s heartland with local entrepreneurs.”
After a wild weather year like 2011, it’s especially valuable to see how different varieties perform over multiple growing environments before selecting seed to plant for next season, says Shaun Casteel, Purdue University Extension soybean agronomist.