Deciding Whether or Not to Make the Planting Switch

Things to consider before making a switch from corn to soybeans due to wet weather. Compiled by staff 

Published on: May 17, 2006

Producers across the upper and eastern Corn Belt have been kept out of fields this spring with above-average rainfall.

Heather Gessner, a marketing/farm business management educator for South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension, says producers considering a switch from corn to soybeans need to weigh several factors:

  • Crop insurance deadlines and policy reductions. Most corn policies have dates between May 20-31, 2006, as the last day for 100 percent coverage. The penalty for the first week after that date is usually minimal. Talk to your crop insurance agent before any decisions are made.
  • Fertilizer costs. Producers who fertilized last fall with plans of planting corn need to consider these "sunk" costs into the operation. Corn fertilizer costs are generally three to four times higher than soybean fertilizer costs. This cost needs to be absorbed by the operation and made up for by the soybean crop. Thus producers may want to consider planting corn in order to take advantage of the fertilizer they have already put down, Gessner says.
  • Chemical applications. Remember that several weed treatments will also kill soybeans and other crops. If those herbicides have been used, the alternative late-season crops will be limited.
  • Late-season production. Agronomists anticipate corn production losses of 1 to 2 bushels per acre per day on fields planted May 15-30, and losses anywhere from 2 to 5 bushels per acre per day losses as planting continues into June. These anticipated production losses need to be considered in the decision-making process as well.
  • Market strategies. Producers who have aggressively forwarded contracted corn will need to deliver on those contracts. Buying back corn is an alternative for producers who were unable to get to the field in a timely manner.

Producers facing these conditions and issues are encouraged to contact their local agronomy and/or farm business/marketing extension educator, as well as their crop insurance agent.