More Corn, Less Soybeans

With corn belt no-tillers expected to grow more corn and fewer soybeans next year, there are a number of major economic, yield and environmental concerns about making this rotational change. Yet the growing demand for ethanol and edible oils should lead to higher returns for both corn and soybeans.

In the short term, more corn acres will result in less soybean production. Expanding corn acres in the long term may replace wheat or cotton and lead to more cropping of Conservation Reserve Program acres.

It is anticipated that U.S. corn production will reach 15 billion bushels within 10 years. While corn and soybean acres for 2006 were fairly close, there could be 6 million more acres of corn by 2010.

While university studies indicate that returns are better from a corn and soybean rotation, this hasn’t stopped no-tillers from shifting to continuous no-till corn. Purdue University data indicate that higher input costs for a 3,000-acre farm averaging 176 bushels of corn and 57 bushels of soybeans per acre in a corn and soybean rotation would need 225 bushels an acre to return a profit with continuous corn.

$5 to $7 Corn Prices

With a booming demand for corn, some speakers at a mid-October Syngenta Crop Protection media summit believe yearly weighted corn prices could reach the $5 per bushel range within 5 years.

With ethanol already using 14 percent of the U.S. corn crop, and use expected to at least double within 5 years, there is a huge opportunity for…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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