ISSUE #377

377 - Timely Planting Worth $3,000 Per Hour


$$ Time is money $$ - this age old adage holds true yet today. What is the value of timely completion of sugarbeet production practices each year. Effect of date of planting on ON-FARM PROFIT for the sugarbeet crop in 1999 may be a case in point. About 60% of the 1999 crop was planted before heavy rains began on May 3 (Figure 1). How did early versus late planting affect yield and return per acre for a 400-acre grower?


prepared by Ron Ellingson

Benefits of Timely Planting – A 400 Acre Shareholder Example

Planting Date Week EndingAcres Planted1999 Rec. Sugar/Acre (lbs)Rec. Sugar/Acre Loss by Not Planting by 5/2 (lbs)Revenue/Acre Loss by Not Planting by 5/2
April 25 100 7,074 --- ---
May 2 100 6,891 --- ---
May 16 100 6,092 799 $176
May 30 100 5,481 1,410 $310

Revenue based on a net selling price of sugar at $.22/lb. and 1999 American Crystal Sugar Company grower practice records

In 1999 yields declined severely from May 2 to June 6 based on American Crystal Sugar Company grower practices records (Figure 1). In this example, if the grower had been able to plant the 100 acres planted the week of May 30, before the early May rains, recoverable sugar per acre would have increased by 1,410 lbs. Gross revenue per acre would have been increased by $31,020 on that 100 acres. If it took 10 hours to plant that 100 acres, those 10 hours had a value of over $3,100 per hour.

Shareholders are often prevented from completing farming activities in a timely manner by many factors beyond their control. Shareholders need to be sure that all controllable factors are taken care of to give themselves every opportunity to maximize on farm profit in 2000.

Some Controllable FactorsSome Uncontrollable Factors
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Fall seedbed preparation
  • Improved field drainage
  • Trained employees
  • Planter test stand use
  • Many others
  • Rainfall
  • Equipment breakdown
  • Frost
  • High winds
  • Health of employees
  • Numerous others
Opportunities to Enhance On-Farm ProfitsIncreased Income or Savings on 400 Acres
Gold Standard:Timely weed control to maximize crop potential.  
Eleven-inch band vs. broadcast application of micro rates applied 4x at a broadcast cost of $20/application. $10/acre savings with each application $16,000
Gold Standard:Stand establishment and management "foundation for success."  
Increase plant population by 10 beets/100’ of row on all acres because plant stands were less than the optimum harvest population of 160 beets/100’ of row = 1.0 0 T/acre yield increase at $35/ton. $14,000
Gold Standard:Timely weed control to maximize crop potential.  
Effectively select herbicides to control resistant Kochia on land to be planted to beets in 2001. Enable continued use of micro rates that reduces herbicide costs $20/acre and less beet injury increases yields 0.5T/acre at $35/ton or $17.50/acre. $11,500
Gold Standard:Precision "N" management to maximize net sucrose.  
Reduce N use by 10 lb./acre on 400 acres to be spring fertilized, results in use of 4,000 lbs. less N @ $.18/lb. and 2 lb. more recoverable sugar per ton (1999 Larry Smith research) on a 19T/A crop with a $.22/lb. net selling price of sugar. $4,064
Gold Standard:Timely weed control to maximize crop potential.  
Reduce row crop cultivations by one pass @ a $4.00 cost/acre. $1,600
Gold Standard: Timely weed control to maximize crop potential.  
Save one herbicide application by substitution of a rotary hoe operation for a net $7.00/acre savings in herbicide costs. $2,800

Obviously all shareholders can’t fully take advantage of all these opportunities. Many shareholders may already be using these practices. Each shareholder needs to determine which of these opportunities or others have a fit for their operation in 2000 that influence ON-FARM PROFIT.