Navigating U.S. corn 2015 planting decisions

Farm Forum

As harvest wraps up in the United States, farmers are already beginning to plan next year’s crop. Many factors play into their final decisions, and the U.S. Grains Council is working to help overseas customers understand how farmers choose what to plant in a time of very low prices.

The answers to the question, “How do you choose what to plant?” vary based on the price of corn, the price of inputs, climate, existing rotational plans and more.

“The biggest factors are your input costs, because corn has higher costs than soybeans,” said Dick Gallagher, a corn farmer in Iowa. “If we have a bumper crop in 2015, I would guess the input costs would come down. However, heading into 2015, I don’t see any significant drop in input costs.”

Further south in Texas, USGC At-Large Director Charles Ring, who grows corn and sorghum, said his planting decisions are dependent on weather.

“In 2012, we only planted corn on our irrigated acres because it was a drought,” Ring said. “Last year, we got into a rainier period, so we upped our corn and brought in dry-land corn.”

This year corn prices fell significantly due to anticipation of a bumper harvest, but Missouri Corn Growers Association Incoming President Kevin Hurst said it wouldn’t affect his decisions.

“Corn prices won’t affect our planting decisions for 2015, and I would guess the same for the majority of people,” Hurst said. “The spread between price and cost is not that much different. At some point during the year, the market will decide what we need to plant, and we’ll be able to make a profit or break even.”

As always, weather will be the final determining factor for what happens in 2015. As Hurst explained, price today doesn’t determine next year’s price.

“Price does come into our decision making process, but that doesn’t determine what will happen,” Hurst said. “The market needs corn, so sometime during the year the crop will pay you enough to make it worth planting.”

The Council promotes U.S. corn around the world and will continue to do so as U.S. farmers head into another growing season.