In farming, many decisions are tougher than a $2 steak. Few compare with deciding whether to replant a crop. In fact, if you don’t find the decision gut-wrenching, you might not be doing it right.
At this point in the season, and through the coming weeks, you might encounter crop stands thinned or weakened by weather, disease, insects, soil crusting or other factors. Your task: Determine whether replanting will pay off. Gone are the days of making a windshield evaluation and following your gut when deciding whether to pull the planter out of the shed. Input costs, market conditions and other factors have squeezed the guesswork out of replant decisions.
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Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. Seed companies, crop consultants, your local co-op and land-grant universities offer several resources designed to help you make an informed replant decision. University of Missouri Extension provides an excellent online guide that identifies several steps in the process:
- Determine the cause. Can you prevent it from happening again? Is it weather-related or caused by factors over which you have more control, such as seed quality, insect or disease pressure?
- Determine stand density and condition. Allow as much time — several days, if possible — to determine whether plants are alive or whether regrowth is possible. This will allow for a more accurate stand count.
- Determine the yield potential of the sparse stand. This is a critical determinant in the replant decision. Strive for an honest, accurate estimate.
- Estimate the expected gross revenue from the sparse stand. Don’t use current market prices. Look to market advisory services or the futures market for harvest-time price estimates.
- Estimate the cost to replant. Include all costs. Don’t overlook labor, interest on loans, added drying costs, etc. But don’t account twice for already-applied herbicides or fertilizer.
- Estimate the yield potential and gross revenue from a replanted stand. Replanting means delayed planting, and that usually reduces yield potential. Search out local resources that can help you determine yield potential specific to your area.
- Determine whether replanting will pay for itself. The University of Missouri’s online workbook can help you compare net income from replanting with the income from a sparse stand. Even if the comparison is positive, weigh other factors, such as what other important tasks replanting will keep you from completing.
If you decide to replant, your Case IH dealer can help you adjust your planting equipment for field conditions, which could include crop residue washed in by flood waters, crusting or wet soil. Regardless of your decision, if you put in the time, walk your fields, measure and calculate, you can feel confident in your conclusion.