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I need a couple of input figures.

I own some farmland but haven't actively farmed in six years, though I still have most of my machinery. My son would like to farm 80 acres next year. I'm now totally out of the loop when it comes to what herbicides to use and will have to meet with an agronomist.  However, can you give me a rough idea on what I can figure to spend on herbicide for corn and beans? Also seed for the same. We generally plant 20,000 seeds per acre of corn.


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6 Replies
Frequent Contributor

Re: I need a couple of input figures.

Lots of variables, but ballpark figures:


corn: $40-$75/acre for seed,  $10-20 for herbicides

soybeans: $50/acre for seed, $10-20 for herbicides


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Re: I need a couple of input figures.

20,000 is astonishingly low on corn.  I plant 33,000 and sometimes 36,000.  A bag of seed has 80,000 kernels, so you would get four acres/bag and I get about 2.3 or so.

At $200/bag, your cost would be around $50/acre and mine about $87.  At $300, you would pay $75 and I pay $130.  

ISU says 20,000 seeds/acre gives you 80% of the yield potential and it maxes at about 35,000 spa.  If you have 175 bushel ground,  you are going to get 140 bushels.  You lose 35 bushel of let's say $5 corn which is $175.  If corn is higher you lose more.  At the cheaper seed level, you saved $37 for a net loss of $138.   You will use a little less fertilizer and drying charges but about the same chemicals and machinery and labor costs.  I'd think you're giving up at least $100/acre and maybe more for the 175 bpa example.  You'll have to use your own land figures.

I spend more on chemicals, but I seem to have weed problems.  I no-till.

Now, on soybeans, this year I planted 115,000 spa, which is quite low to some.  We see 200,000 spa from drills.  But, most say we overplant soybeans so this year I'm cutting back and we'll see if it is a good idea. 


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Re: I need a couple of input figures.

I asked the guy who now rents one of my places how thick he plants corn and 20,000 is what he told me. He seems to raise crops as good as anyone else around here. We're in Nebraska so it's probably a little dryer than your area.

Thanks for the info.

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Veteran Advisor

Re: I need a couple of input figures.

I'm in central Nebraska (East Custer County) and dryland corn populations do run about 20K. I personally run about 21 in the lower fields, and 17K away from the 'bottoms'.  I have had my best yields, on dry years when I mistakenly planted a few rounds on the bottoms at 17K, but on an average, to wetter year, the 20K does better.   I figure 5 acres/bag on higher ground/thinner soil, and 4 acres/bag on the lower ground.

It is very, very important to get a hybrid that has good ear flex, at those low pops.  It makes a big difference in a 'wet' year, to keep yield potential up.
Remember about 1.1# of N for every bushel of average yield, go with local prices there.

On thinner Nebraska soils, starter fertilizer almost always pays, add maybe $25-$35 an acre for that.


If you are near, or have access to a Country Partners Co-Op, they do a spreadsheet, where they punch in fertilizer (at current prices) and 'avreage' application rates, as well as cost of various fieldwork, using current fuel costs, or average custom rates.

It would be a real good starting point, if they have one made up for a dryland field.

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Senior Advisor

Re: I need a couple of input figures.

Not trying to pick on you Jim, but I agree with the other posts on the seed population.  Annual rainfall has an enormous input on this calculation.  I planted my first dryland corn crop this year on April 17, and I was told by 3 or 4 producers to plant 17,000 and 3 or 4 other producers told me 18,000, so I split the difference and went with my closest planter setting to 17,500.  If my memory is correct, I believe the spacing was 11.5" on 30" rows.  I am from Central Kansas and receive 18" to 20" annual precipitation.

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Re: I need a couple of input figures.

I obviously applied Iowa agronomic practices to a place where it is not appropriate.  Thanks to all for straightening me out.  🙂

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