Soybean Economics

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Tim Hambrick, Ext Ag Agent

Soybean Economics
 A quick study of USDA statistics will show something a bit striking – soybean should be one of our most intensively managed crops! Why? Because soybean is our largest acreage crop. If you look at the statistics over the 4 county area, we plant about 22,000 acres of corn, 7200 acres of tobacco, and 5300 acres of wheat totaling 34,500 acres. In the same 4 county region, we plant about 36,000 acres of soybeans. Since plant more soybeans than the other 3 row crops combined we need to insure those 36,000 acres are profitable!
When a producer enters the NC Soybean Contest, yield is measured and that’s what most people are interested in. But, Dr. Jim Dunphy, also enters each yield into a 2nd contest – one that measures the profitability of that entry. That’s the portion that should generate the highest level of on-farm conversation.
The 2017 soybean crop was very good. For the very first time, NC soybean producers hit the 100 bu mark, not once, but 3 times. To go along with those three 100+ bu yields, NC produced 6 entries that yielded 90-99 bushels, and another 17 that were in the 80-89 bu range. The crop was so good, the state soybean record was broken 4 times by three different producers, settling at 107.4 bu/acre. Since each of these fields was a minimum of 3 acres in size that produces some pretty good production data.
Here are a few per acre tidbits gleaned from those 63 contest entries:
1. Seed Cost – lbs of seed planted ranged from 31-75 lbs. Average was 46 lbs planted. Average seed cost was $49.17.
2.  Herbicide Cost – average herbicide cost was $43.82. Two double croppers used no herbicide so the low cost was 0.
3.  Insecticide Cost – 25% of the entries used no insecticide. The other 75% had an average insecticide cost of $13.45.
So here is the question. Based on the numbers above, are there areas you can improve upon? Are your costs below average, average, or above average? If other growers are doing something you are not, is there room to improve your bottom line?
Just a few more statistics:
Average yield in he contest was 75.8 bu. High of 107.4, low of 49.1
Average profit per acre was $74.54. High of $291.37, low of -225.55
We will be discussing soybean production pertaining to profitability at the Feb. 16 production meeting. If you are interested in producing high yield, profitable soybeans, be sure to register for that grain meeting by calling me at 703-2857. I need to hear from you by Feb. 8.
IF you want a full copy of the economics report, let me know and I’ll stick one in the mail. The big chart covers much more than what I touched on here.