Check the Math: Mistake in Article
I was reading the article in the February 2013 Top Producer about it being a gamble whether to plant $300 seed corn or $100. Up until I got to page 36 it was making some sense and then I got to the paragraph that says John pays $340 per unit and his total seed cost for his 2,000 acres would be $1.7 million. It took me about 2 seconds to know that was not correct.
You see a unit of corn will plant approximately 2.35 acres. His 2,000 acres will take approximately 850 bags of seed corn. And seed at $350 per unit his total seed corn cost for his 2,000 acres would be $289,000 not the $1.7 million reported. If his seed cost $220 per unit his total seed corn cost would be $187,000, not the $1.1 million reported. And finally if his seed cost him $150 per unit his total seed corn cost would be $127,500, not $750,000 as reported. The difference between the high cost seed and the cheap seed is $161,500.
Now based on 2,000 acres his cost difference between the two seed varieties is now only $80.75 per acre or about 13.5 bu. per acre. I will about guarantee that the higher priced seed will out produce the cheap seed by more than 13.5 bu. per acre, but that is not a given in any specific year.
After reading the article I came to the conclusion that reading that article was a waste of my time. Someone should proof read your articles before they are published and make sure the facts are being printed. I just wonder how many other readers caught this huge miscalculation. Please do a better job from now on or I will not be reading Top Producer.
There must be a misprint on the seed cost in the Top Producer February article. It says the seed costs for 2,000 acres of corn is $1,700,000. That comes out to $850 per acre. Even at the cheap seed at $150 bag, you have it at $750,000 total for 2,000 acres. That comes to $375 per acre.
Editor’s Note: Thanks to all the readers who saw this and sent a response. Your feedback is always welcome and appreciated.
Greg and Leon:
You are correct in your assessment; the seed costs were calculated incorrectly. I should have realized they were too high and taken a second look. My planting population was way off base (2.4 units/acre). It should have been 1 unit/2.4 acres.
The correct numbers for the article should read: $340 unit price for seed is $278,800 for a 2,000 acre farm (with a planting population of 32,800 seeds/acre); $220 unit price is $180,400 and $150 unit price is $123,000.
The numbers have been updated online and we will run a correction in the next issue. I appreciate your feedback and will work to make sure this doesn’t happen again. If you have any story ideas or topics you would like to read more about, please send them my way.
- March 2013