Farm Progress

Weed control ‘savings’ means less money in the bank this year

I didn’t think our weed problems would hurt profit that much until I penciled out the losses.

Maria Cox, Blogger

September 20, 2017

2 Min Read

I’ve had a lot of people tell me you can’t borrow your way into profitability. I also experienced first hand that sometimes you can’t save your way into profitability, either.

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know that we had major weed problems in soybeans this year. These problems were so bad that my four-year-old niece made a song about the weeds in Aunt Maria’s soybean fields. She also asked why I had “beans in my weeds.”

Our soybean planting this year went well until we had 10 inches of rain in late April. Several fields didn’t emerge for four weeks, and we didn’t do our first post spray until 45 days after planting.

To put it lightly, we had poor emergence and weed problems.

We thought all along that the weeds wouldn’t hurt yield too much. We were wrong. The weediest farm yielded 10 bushels less than the farm next to it with minimal weeds. It also took me twice as long to cut the weedy fields.

Bad math

We had the opportunity last summer to do a second spray application, but chose not to spray the farms in question. We saved $20 per acre on those farms by not spraying. The 10 bushel weed deduction multiplied by $9.50 per bushel equaled $95 per acre lost in revenue. We saved $20 to lose $95, for a gross deduction of $75 per acre.

The weeds didn’t hurt me that much until I put the pencil to the paper.

What did I learn from this experience? Don’t skimp on the weed control. I have focused this year on cutting costs without decreasing production. Looking back, several cost cutting decisions turned out to be right. I like to calculate our returns for each decision. I feel great when I calculate that I made the right decision. But, I can see that making wrong choices teaches me more about farming than making right choices.

The decision to not do a second post spray ended up being wrong. We learned from it and now have a plan in place to manage future weeds.

It would also help if Mother Nature doesn’t drench us with 10 inches of rain just after planting.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.


About the Author(s)

Maria Cox


Maria Cox is a sixth generation grain, livestock, and hay farmer from White Hall, Ill.  She has been farming with her family since 2012, and also has experience in grain marketing and crop insurance.  She holds a M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University and a B.S. in Agribusiness from the University of Illinois. You can find her online at and twitter @mariacoxfarm.

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