Even with higher input costs, Ron Smit from Hospers, IA, plans to grow more corn this year. In fact, he's been growing some continuous corn for almost 10 years. Triple-stack hybrids have made that possible and profitable for him. A big reason for going with more corn, he claims, is that “demand for corn should be better than for beans, especially with ethanol use and the livestock expansion in my area.
“We're also seeing more corn stubble being baled for use as livestock bedding and feed. Our neighbor is baling our stalks,” says the 1,850-acre grower who then trades the stalks for cattle manure. “I've about cut my fertilizer costs in half by using his manure.”
This year, Smit expects to plant 1,040 acres of corn (57%) and 800 acres of soybeans (43%). Last year that was closer to a 50-50 ratio. “Prices are absolutely driving my decision,” he says.
“We don't want to get too lopsided in the market with too many acres of corn and not enough beans,” he explains. “We put a lot of inputs on last fall before this bean market took a run so we have to stick with it. If corn input costs keep rising, and global demand for protein continues, we're going to seriously think about switching more to beans.”
Smit is fortunate that he's in an expanding livestock area. He says local cattle feeders are starting to come in and even bale his bean straw to grind and use as cattle feed. “That brings us another $15-20/acre,” he says.