Corn silage was most profitable crop last year for farmers enrolled in education courses at the South Dakota Center for Farm/Ranch Management, Mitchell.
Corn silage generated a return of $379 per acre. A higher than normal price for silage and crop insurance payments for low grain yields due to the drought, contributed to profit, says Chris Downs, an instructor at the Center.
Winter wheat, seemingly unaffected by the drought, was the second most profitable crop for farmers enrolled in the Center's programs. Their average return was $309 per acre.
Corn was the third most profitable crop at $305 per acre; spring wheat was fourth at $145/acre; soybeans was fifth at $117 per acre, and alfalfa was sixth at $86 per acre.
Winter wheat had the biggest increase in average yields over 2011. Yields averaged 75.9 bushels per acre in 2012, compared to 56 bushels per acre in 2011.
Corn yields decreased the most. The average yield decreased from 127 bushels per acre in 2011 to 87 bushels per acre in 2012. Soybean yields averaged 27.3 bushels per acre. And alfalfa averaged 2.4 ton per acre. Corn silage averaged 7.1 ton per acre.
In 2012, all operating income from the crop enterprises accounted for 50.4% of the total farm income. Crop sales accounted for 35%, crop insurance claims 13.3% and government payments 2.1% of farm income.
The remainder of the total cash operating income was split between livestock sales with 45% and other farm income at 5%.
"A substantial crop inventory at the beginning of 2012 coupled with more crop acreage and higher prices associated to the drought across the United States helped bolster the crop sales last year. Plus, crop insurance income related to the drought mainly south of Interstate 90 contributed to that increase," Downs says.
It cost South Dakota farmers enrolled in the Center programs $65 per acre more to raise corn in 2012. Total cost averaged $538 per acre for cash rented ground. Total input costs for soybeans were $372 per acre, an increase of $50 over 2011. Farmers spent an extra $90 per acre on winter wheat for a total of $368 per acre.
While alfalfa had the biggest cost per acre increase of $127, the total cost to operate an acre of ground was $333.
Source: S.D. Center for Farm/Ranch Management