Grundy County farmer Paul Jeschke said, for the first time in 20 years, he will plant equal acres of corn and soybeans this 2017 planting season due to the low price of corn and higher prices of soybeans at sale.
“This is nothing new. Anyone with any amount of farming under their belt can look at the cyclical nature of farming,” Jeschke said.
Jeschke also serves as a volunteer on the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and said the hits farmers have been taking the past couple of years due to low corn prices are forecasted to be the same this year due to two main reasons.
One reason was due to the technology and genetics, which allowed farmers to grow better yields than in the past. He said farmers have doubled what they can produce in the past 25 to 30 years due to genetics and GMO technologies.
The second reason corn was at a high surplus was due to the short term good weather, except the 2012 drought, but from 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 farmers grew bumper crops and surplus builds quickly.
FS Grain, LLC Business Development Manager Rodney Connor said in Grundy County farmers have grown 190 to 200 bushels per acre of corn, compared to five years ago when farmers were getting 180 to 185 bushels per acre. He also said in the last five years Grundy County farmers have grown a ratio of 70 percent corn and 30 percent soybeans, but in 2017, the ratio was predicted to be closer to 50/50.
Grundy County Farm Bureau Manager Victoria Wax said in Grundy County there are approximately 217,000 acres of farmland in production with 48 percent used to grow corn. Connor said in 2013, 112,000 acres of corn were planted on farms in Grundy County. In 2016 the number of acres of corn planted was down to 104,500.
“This is typical. Every farmer knew it was going to happen. High corn yields lead to low prices. In 2012 and 2013 farmers were ramping up the corn production, which led to the decrease in price. Because corn was king, guys threw all their money at corn and ran out of money when it came to soybeans,” Connor said.
Connor said soybeans are now more profitable, with large jumps in production. He said five years ago, a farmer could yield 45 to 50 bushels per acre and now they see 60 up to 65 bushels per acre.
“Guys are now adopting new technology and paying closer attention to soybeans than they did in the past,” Connor said.
Although soybeans seem to be the way to go, Jeschke said farmers know the dangers of planting soybeans after soybeans on the same field due to a risk of disease, and will continue to rotate crops, and plant corn. Country-wide it was predicted that three million less of acres of corn will be planted and three million more acres of soybeans will be planted for 2017 according to Jeschke.
“A 50/50 rotation is about as heavy of a soybean cycle you want to get here with our soil in Grundy County because of the risk of disease,” Jeschke said.
Jeschke said even though farmers have lost money the past couple of years, there are hopes they took advantage of the higher priced years and saved and used techniques to save on costs now.
He said between the years of 2007 and 2015 corn crops led to financially good times, with the exception of the drought of 2012, and when farmers make money, they tend to spend it to pay down debt, pay ahead and buy new equipment.
“The inventory of items to make farming possible should be in pretty good shape, and some farmers are able to cut back now on making purchases on those large items because they have a good line up,” Jeschke said.
He also said farmers can find other ways to make up for the costs that were lost by cutting the use of fertilizer on land that they feel has been fertilized enough the year before, buying seed brands from three to four years ago which have lower prices, using generic herbicides, and negotiating land rents for those who farm rented land.
Connor said farmers may have old crop corn sitting on the farm and even thought the cash price is low, the yields were phenomenal, so there is more to sell. In order to capture a good price, Connor suggests selling corn early between March 20 and June 16 for the 2017 harvest in order to lock in a rate the farmer may feel a good price. It also gets some sales on the books, rather than being forced to sell in October at the only price available.
Connor said, for now, he sees a trend in more soybeans being planted to rescue from bad corn prices due to bankers putting pressure on their farming clients to plant soybeans because loans are less and soybeans cost less to plant, and a high demand in the Chinese market which he said is “strong and ramping up.”