The front of your mind is likely looking out the cab of the combine and you are focused on harvesting corn or soybeans. However, in the back of your mind you are wondering about 2014 and what is in store?
Will the weather cooperate? Will corn prices be above or below $4? And will soybean prices still be strong because of more tight supplies?
All of that makes you wonder if a change is warranted in your cropping pattern. You may have moved away from continuous corn because of lower yields and serious pest issues. But will a soybean crop have the yield and price power to replace corn?
One of the answers to your questions may be found in the ratio between your corn and soybean yields. You have those numbers, but University of Illinois farm management specialist Gary Schnitkey used state yield numbers for Illinois, and you can used the same procedure with your farm numbers to help make your cropping plans for 2014.
What Schnitkey did was to determine the corn to soybean yield ratio over time. His Illinois numbers had a slight uptrend since 1970, and then turned upward at a higher degree since 2000, although the past three years have been at a much lower ratio, so look well back before 2010. Based on the projected 2013 yields of 165 and 47 bushels, a corn to soybean ratio would be 1:3.51. That is determined by dividing the corn yield by the soybean yield, and 165/47 = 3.51. Schnitkey says 3.51 is higher than the ratio for the prior 3 years, but lower than the prior 10 years.
Work out the yield relationships for your farm for as far back as you have yield data. It is even worth looking to crop insurance, elevator settlement sheets, and any other source you might be able to identify to get the numbers. Because of crop dynamics the ratio has changed over time. Schnitkey says his state yield ratios were 3.12 in the 1970’s, 3.16 in the 1980’s, and 3.18 in the 1990’s. That means corn profitability has increased over time since corn yields increased at a more rapid rate than soybean yields. But he is quick to say, “Obviously, other factors impact profits, either reinforcing or mitigating the impacts of yield trends.”
From 2000 to 2009 the ratio rose to 3.59, well above the long term average. Several years of high ratio years resulted from low soybean yields attributed to aphids and certain diseases that had no affect on corn yields, and occurred in years when corn yields were higher. Your yields may well reflect those same yield trends.