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What to Expect in 2018

By David Bau, Extension Educator

Heavy spring rains resulting in flooded fields and delayed planting for many farmers in southern Minnesota.  Fortunately winter gave wave to summer heat and planting was hectic right up to the insurance final planting dates for corn and soybeans.  The majority of farmers were able to get the crop in with a few wet areas having been left behind and planted around although some will have prevented planting this year.  So how does 2018 look now?  With later planting dates, crop maximum potential was lowered.

For corn, maximum corn yield is generally obtained when planting occurs in late April or early May (100 percent if planted by April 30th). In years when spring arrives late when there are few growing degree days during late April and the first half of May, maximum corn yield also can be obtained when planting occurs in mid–May.  A couple of studies by Dr. Jeff Coulter, University of Minnesota Extension Corn Specialist. One from 2009 to 2011 at Lamberton, Morris, and Waseca, MN average grain yield was within 98% of the maximum if planting was completed by May 15.

In another study from 1988 to 2003 at Lamberton, MN, a planting date of May 15 resulted in grain yields that averaged 95% of the maximum. These same studies found that corn yield averaged 92 to 95% of the maximum when planting occurred by May 20. Typically there is a rapid decline in corn yield as planting is delayed beyond mid–May. However, advantages from timely planting according to the calendar can be negated if planting occurs when soils are too wet. Consider earlier–maturity hybrids when planting is delayed beyond the third week of May.

For Soybeans early-May plantings usually result in maximum yields, lower yields should be expected for later plantings. Planting soybeans in Minnesota on May 10 results in only a 2-percent yield loss; on May 15 in a 3-percent yield loss, and on May 20 in a 6-percent yield loss (or 94 percent of normal yield). For June 9th one day ahead of the final crop insurance planting date of June 10th in Southern Minnesota 24-percent yield loss (or 76 percent of normal yield).

So the later planting dates will result in lower yields and many farmers will not receive the record yields of the last couple of years.  Expenses are similar to 2017 crops, so if yields are potentially lower where can a farmer make up ground?  A higher price will be needed.  So far the average futures price for corn and soybeans from March through May are higher than 2017.  For 2018 the average futures price is $4.115 for corn and $10.37 for soybeans.  This compares to an average corn futures price of $3.87 and $9.66 for soybeans.

If yields are 5% lower than last year using 200 bushel corn and 58 bushel soybeans that translate to 10 bushels less corn and 3 bushel less soybeans.  Corn prices are 24½ cents higher than last year and soybeans prices are 71 cents higher.  Using current basis of 55 cents for corn and 80 for soybeans total corn revenue would be $677.35 for corn and $527.31 for soybeans per acre.  With average estimated inputs costs of $716 for corn and $481for soybeans, margins will again be tight at an average of $7.66 per acre, unless the extra warm weather in May and June help the crops catch up.


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