Senior Contributor
Posts: 1,440
Registered: ‎06-15-2013

Re: Cost of production

Last year, after prices fell, I decided I'd plant some personal 'test plots'.  Now, I don't have a yield monitor in the combine, but I can get a pretty good guess at what yielded better or worse.  For the first time in several years, I planted some plain-Jane corn, non GMO, not even RR corn.  Guess, what, that penciled out to be my most profitable corn.  Of course, my situation is unique, and may not hold true for everyone else, but with all the GMO corn, pest levels have dropped dramatically, and my fields are pretty clean, so I'm going to try going all non GMO corn for this year.   Cost savings is a little over $100 a bag, heck, dropping the RR gene, and just spraying a full dose of PrePlant herbicide pencils out to less cost per acre (especially since I don't have my own sprayer and have to hire it done.  In the past, I had to have 2 passes with herbicide, in addition to the fert. application.  Now, I'll be down to one total trip, saving cost, as well as compaction problems, if the ground is wet.  For the last 2 years in a row, my non GMO corn, has been my top yielder, and when you combine improved yields, with reduced cost, how can you go wrong?
One thing I don't think I will drop, will be some form of nitrogen stabilizer.  I have experimented with it for several years now, and my side by side yield comparisons have shown equal or better yields using stabilizer, compared to split application.  This year, I went all stabilized N, instead of monkeying with the split application, and with the very wet spring, I didn't have the yellow spots show up in my field, that many of the neighbors did, who did not use stabilizer, and had N loss.  I use the stuff to prevent both leaching, and volitation, and have been very happy with the results.   The only people who's corn kept the nice even color all season as well as mine, were the ones who applied N through the pivot, and they had to put on more than I did, to achieve it.   Not only that, but they were irrigating in the rain, because that was the only way to add the extra N that their crops needed.   The rains shut off in late July, so we all had to water, but I think it would be safe to say that the extra fuel they burned chemigating when their corn didn't need the water, cost more than the stabilizer would have.

Other ways to save:  Pre-ordering seed for the biggest discount.  Even if you don't have the money to pre-pay, there are companies out there that will let you put so much down, to lock in the best price, and then pay the balance at the end of the year (get the Sept discount, but the bulk of the money is due until after harvest).  All seed corn varieties have that little ID number on the tag now, so if you saved that little tag from last year's seed, you can take it to various companies, and get price quotes for the exact same seed.  In my case, one company was $20 a bag higher than another, for the exact same variety, but they would give me a flashlight for an early order.  I don't farm a lot, so I don't buy near the seed some do, but it still would have added up to the most expensive flashlight I ever owned. 

Otherwise, it is basic belt tightening.  Running the same old antique machinery I have been, for another year (or ten).  I joke that I can run GasAhol in everything, because all my stuff is older than the legal drinking age, LOL.  Funny thing, though.   The elevator pays the same price per bushel for corn, picked with a 1460 and hauled in a 1977 C60, as they do if the corn was picked with a brand new combine, and delivered with a brand new semi.  And I'm not so sure that a decently maintained 1460, will do as good a job in corn, as anything else out there (not counting capacity).