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Changing planting plans?

Jeff Caldwell 05/04/2011 @ 4:01pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

If you're having trouble making planting decision as weather continues to keep you parked, the University of Illinois has a new tool for you. But, just don't rush to judgment as to whether you need to pull the trigger on an acreage shift quite yet, says one specialist.

Farm Management Specialist Gary Schnitkey has developed a Planting Decision Model, a spreadsheet that can help farmers answer important questions when it comes to putting in this year's crop, whether corn or soybeans, on-time or delayed.

"The spreadsheet compares corn and soybean returns by planting date," Schnitkey says in a university report. "We've built in agronomic functions developed in the U of I Department of Crop Sciences that give an average or a projected yield for different planting dates. We combine that with the price of corn and soybeans and determine which crop has a higher return on any given planting date."

Schnitkey says the spreadsheet now includes crop factors like planting date, harvest prices and non-land costs and U of I specialists are in the process of adding other "modules" to help farmers handle other factors like crop insurance.

But, even with a more sophisticated decision-making tool like the Planting Decision Model, Schnitkey says farmers shouldn't rush to change their planting plans just yet.

"Right now those yield functions and very high corn and soybean prices suggest that we wouldn't want to switch in northern and central Illinois until at least the end of May and early June. In southern Illinois, those decisions to switch from corn to soybeans occur in the last week of May, using yield functions that are defaulted within the model," he says. "Using current commodity prices and costs, switching to more soybeans seems several weeks away."


 

 

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