In the immediate northwest/north-central Iowa region, farms were, for the most part, fit for planting approximately 20 days consecutively beginning April 17.
Unprecedented in recent history, this run allowed most all of the corn and a huge majority of the soybeans to be planted. It also tested the limits of really how much crop could be planted in a short amount of time with today’s modern machinery.
In years past, there would have been more hesitancy to immediately switch the corn planter over to soybeans and keep it running.
But with a favorable forecast and wider availability of yield studies demonstrating a strong correlation of earlier plant dates with higher soybean yields, the decision to switch overcame with greater confidence than ever.
The other side of the agricultural coin is the farm financial economy. Since the beginning of March, Chicago Board of Trade corn prices have given up roughly 60 cents and soybeans more than 80 cents.
While prices have rallied a bit recently, this free-fall, combined with a significant widening of the local basis, offered very little opportunity to continue to market last year’s crop, let alone trigger any sales targets for this 2020 crop. Ethanol demand slowed substantially with the fall of oil prices, export markets have been minimal, domestic animal feed use has tapered, and the uncertainty of COVID-19 lingers.
All of this combined with a whopping 96 million-acre estimated corn crop that’s been planted adds up to a very lopsided global supply balance sheet. There are a lot of negative pressures on corn and soybean prices leaving many to ask how much worse can it get.
For now, land prices continue to hold steady, much of the operating and term financing decisions were made over the winter months, and the farmer is positioned to weather yet another storm.
The focus now will be on growing this crop the best Mother Nature allows and attempting once again to bushel ourselves to profitability.
Jon Flattery, Farm Manager and Appraiser
Sunderman Farm Management Company Staff