Many Illinois farmers have been disappointed with 2011 corn-after-corn yields, reporting significantly lower corn-after-corn yields compared to corn-after-soybean yields.  

To provide guidance for 2012 planting decisions, University of Illinois agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey calculated the break-even corn-after-corn yields for farms in northern, central Illinois with high-productivity farmland, central Illinois with low-productivity farmland and southern Illinois regions.

“We were looking at what sort of yield you need to have corn-after-corn before you switch to soybeans and how much lower that will be than corn-after-soybean,” Schnitkey said. “What we found is that in southern Illinois, if you can have yield drags of between 24 bushels per acre and 35 bushels per acre, which is a central Illinois high productivity, it’s more profitable to plant soybeans than it is corn, given that corn is following corn.”

For comparison, Schnitkey calculated a 56-bushel yield in central Illinois with a $12 price and subtracted from that $298 of non-land cost for soybeans to discover the soybean net return.

“We knew what the cost was for producing corn-after-corn, $520 per acre,” he said.

“We also took a corn price of $5.50.