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Measure inputs per bushel

Lowering your price cost per bushel can increase your returns per acre greatly.

August has become seed-sales-blitz month in much of the country. Seed sales experts know from past experience that the earlier they can get a signed initial order, the more likely they are to win their place on your farm. The new definition of “early” has become August the year before planting and the parade of pickups driving up and down your driveway is now part of the late summer ritual. Growers want the largest discount possible and that usually means needing to place orders early.

It’s a frustrating dilemma for growers that are wanting to use their data to drive important agronomic decisions – how do I decide on hybrids and varieties when I don’t know how they performed on my fields this year? Many orders become “placeholders” until initial harvest results allow for some data analytics. For many, initial data analysis lets us compare hybrid or variety performance – and results in this table make it easy to pick the winner.

I’d suggest that one of the first places to start the seed decision process relates to weed/pest control. In August, you don’t know how a hybrid or variety yielded but you can begin to evaluate the effectiveness of your weed, insect and disease protection programs. Over the past 20 years, we’ve moved much of the traditional crop protection investment into the seed investment with trait packages. Part of the increase in seed prices has been offset by savings in herbicide, insecticide and fungicide investments. But with weed and pest resistance driving decisions, most growers are paying more to achieve control.

Many times, the best data analytics are driven by a question? The question we hear many growers asking is “if I invest more in crop protection products, do I need the same trait packages? Do they pay?” There is a growing “show me the money” attitude in the country side.

Those August pre-harvest seed discussions are great time to start talking about the intersection of investing in traits versus investing in crop protection products.

I believe tight economics at the farm gate require that we use our data to take our analytics to another level. It’s time to evaluate input investments per bushel produced and not just yield per acre. Using data to make better decisions isn’t just about the data from monitors. The richest and most powerful data analysis allows you to combine your agronomic data and your accounting data to drive the highest return on investment in each part of every field.

Across your entire operation, lowering your cost by $.10/bu produced can equal an additional $22/acre net return. Within parts of each fields, the differences in cost per bushel produced can be much larger.

I love to talk about high yields. I love to talk about the details of what it takes to produce high yields and how your data can help drive agronomic decisions. But far more important than high yields are the most profitable high yields!

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