Plenty of no-tillers were faced with lengthy delays in getting their crops planted this spring. And the critical question was whether these unfortunate delays led to last-minute cropping changes, or whether growers were sticking with their initial cropping strategies. 

Changes in crop futures definitely had an impact this spring on cropping practices in some situations. On May 26, soybean futures for July settled at $11.85 per bushel and reached $10.42 for November delivery. Futures prices for wheat at the Chicago Board of Trade for July were $6.12 and $6.60 for December. Corn futures stood at $4.27 for July delivery and $4.50 for December delivery.

To get an idea of whether weather delays in planting or increasing crop prices were leading to any change in the cropping mix, we sent an e-mail survey to no-tillers on Memorial Day. As growers celebrated the holiday weekend with family members, we asked if they were making last-minute changes in their cropping strategies.

Many Cropping Changes

Some 22% of the responding no-tillers reported making significant changes in their cropping plans during the last part of May.

Among growers who shifted crop acres, 79% said it was due to unfavorable weather conditions that had delayed timely planting. Only 24% switched to more soybeans than corn in recent weeks due to higher bean prices.

Among no-tillers who changed cropping plans at the last minute, 74% added more soybeans. Another 6% switched to more corn, while 7% switched some acres to another crop.

Among surveyed growers growing wheat or barley, 33% are taking a closer look at no-tilling double-crop soybeans this year.

Impact On Income

Some 63% of these growers believe a change in cropping plans will reduce their gross farm income this year. Yet it was interesting to note that 37% felt their last-minute shift in cropping plans would actually increase gross farm income.

Among growers who felt their shift in cropping plans would reduce gross farm income, the average reduction amounted to $35,112. Their answers ranged from a reduction of $400 to $100,000.

Among growers who expect to increase gross farm income by making last-minute cropping shifts, the average increase amounted to $69,700. The answers ranged from only $500 to $250,000.

So for some no-tillers, the chance to make cropping changes close to the Memorial Day weekend resulted in a significant increase in farm income. With fewer trips to make over fields, no-tillers are finding that it’s much more timely, easier and cheaper to make last-minute changes to expand profits than growers using more intensive tillage.