How Will You Pay For High-Priced Land?

Shoot for decent yields to give yourself a shot.

Published on: Dec 10, 2012

A farm just sold in northwest Ohio recently for $9,600 an acre. Three years ago a farmer paid $4,000 per acre for the farm next to it and thought he paid too much. In central Illinois before Thanksgiving, a farm of more than 100 acres sold for $15,200 per acre. Thirty-six bidders were registered for the sale.

Investors are back in the market, but so are farmers. Can you farm your way through $15,200 land?

That likely depends on how creative a job you do of budgeting.

To have any chance at all of turning a profit and seeing return on investment from farming it, Greg Sauder, Tremont, Ill., president of Precision Planting, says you have to think of yield in terms of thousands of ears per acre. You have to do everything possible when the field is in corn to produce more harvestable ears per acre than you have in the past.

Ready to roll: This planter will be in top shape when it leaves the barn lot to go to the field. It must be if you want to capture as many harvestable ears per acre as possible next fall.
Ready to roll: This planter will be in top shape when it leaves the barn lot to go to the field. It must be if you want to capture as many harvestable ears per acre as possible next fall.

He believes you can pick up a couple harvestable ears per acre extra here and there by paying more attention to your planting operation. Each harvestable ear per one/one-thousandth acre harvested represents about 7 bushels per acre. If spacing is off, you're losing several dollars per acre. If stalks are 4 inches apart, it's due to a misplaced seed, likely because it bounced down the seed tube. If one stalk in the row is thin, it likely was planted too shallow because there wasn't enough downforce on the row units to keep planting depth uniform.

He believes uniform planting depth is a key to uniform emergence and top yield. If plants emerge more than 36 hours after the first plant spike in the field, you're set to lose yield in terms of fewer harvestable ears per acre. If the emergence is delayed too long, the plant will be a weed and it will not produce any yield.

In high stakes times with lots of dollars changing hand for land and cash rent, it's critical to get the planting job done right the first time, Sauder concludes.