We calculated the yield on corn that equated to 56 bushels of soybeans. That came to 163 bushels of corn. So, if you get less than 163 bushels of corn-after-corn, it’s more profitable to plant soybeans than it is to plant corn-after-corn.”

He noted that 163 bushels is less than what is being projected for corn-after-soybeans.

“We’re projecting corn-after-soybeans for 2012 to be in the 198-bushel-an-acre range. So the break-even number of corn-after-corn bushels is 163. If you get more than 163 bushels, it will be more profitable than growing 56 bushels of soybeans.

“At 167 bushels, that’s 35 bushels yield drag. What we’ve seen in the past couple of years is that it has been more than that. But over time, 10 to 20 bushels is about what we’d expect,” he said.

Schnitkey believes there is more interest in going back to soybeans from corn-after-corn.

“There may be agronomic reasons why things have changed, but if you’re looking at just the straight prices that are being offered and the cost levels we’re at, right now the economics would be saying to plant more corn than soybeans.

“The corn yield to match soybean yield is historically low compared to where we’ve been for the past 10 years. So the market is saying, ‘plant more corn,’ but we’re having these yield drags so people are thinking that they should grow more soybeans and there’s a conflict,” he said.

According to Schnitkey, the calculations show where farmers need to be on break-even levels.

“We’ve had two unusual years,” he said. “There is a good agronomic reason to believe that in stressful years, corn-after-corn will do worse than corn-after-soybeans. So if we have a more normal year, there could be no yield drag, in which case, corn would be more profitable than soybeans.”
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