Crops > Cost & Return > Profitability

Balance of crop rotations in 2013

AgDM Newsletter
October 2012

What can we expect in row crop acreage in 2013? With the early 2012 harvest, thoughts turn to planting intentions for next year.

Iowa and the Corn Belt will likely not plant as many acres of corn in 2013 as in 2012. Referring to what some call the drought hangover, drought gets in people’s minds and lingers for years.

Many farmers want to get their crop rotations back in balance after planting more corn-on-corn in recent years.

With relatively tight U.S. marketing year ending stocks for both corn and soybeans by August 2013, any problems in global production, such as South America weather, could push farmers to plant one crop over another by spring.

Since 2008, the annual corn to soybean planted acreage percentage in Iowa tends to run between 56 percent to 59 percent, favoring corn, and is slightly less, 53 percent to 56 percent, for the na­tion. Expect these percentages to decrease in 2013 with the likelihood of more soybean acres being planted.

Observers suggest many factors may have contributed to the shift to more planted corn acres in the past, including improved corn genetics, disease/ pest challenges in soybeans, new improved tillage equipment, and crop insurance considerations. Higher cash rent prices likely favor planting corn for the higher net revenue potential. South America weather concerns, followed by the U.S. drought, ran soybeans to record high prices by early September.

Farmers need to evaluate their own individual circumstances. That includes everything from land costs, crop rotation issues and price expectations. I think the lack of soil moisture and the drought experience will weigh heavily on farmers’ minds in making 2013 planting decisions.

To help farmers evaluate profitability for their own operation, Iowa State developed a decision tool posted to the Ag Decision Maker website, The online worksheet (A1-80) provides sample figures and protected formulas for producers to insert their own numbers and determine their own rotation comparisons.


Steven D. Johnson, farm and ag business management specialist, 515-957-5790,