Once their decisions have been submitted, the Learning Center staff plants each school’s plot, implementing the production decisions of the students. During the season, each school takes a field trip to the Monmouth Learning Center to see their plot and learn more about agronomy as well as career opportunities in the industry.
At the end of the season, all plots are harvested, yields are adjusted to 15% moisture, and the grain is sold on the cash market. There are two prizes given out: one is awarded to the school who produces the highest yield, and one is awarded to the school who returns the highest profit based on their decisions.
Corn maturity and trait package were not major factors with regard to yield. However, when analyzing profitability, the VT Double PRO® RIB Complete® corn blend trait packages tended to be the more profitable choice. This was not surprising as these plots were planted on soybean stubble, so corn rootworm was not a factor.
Nitrogen management was also critical this year. Schools that went with ‘front-heavy’ applications of nitrogen tended to yield and perform better. Cutting back on nitrogen rates resulted in much lower productivity.
For the most part, early planting outperformed later planting.
The top five schools (yields) were within 6 bu/acre of each other but were separated by as much as $62.79 in net profit/acre.
The plot with the highest per-acre cost was 6th in yield.
These are excellent lessons for students in that the goal of a farmer is not just to produce high yields, but to do so efficiently and profitably. Continuing to add inputs does not guarantee higher yield and cutting costs does not necessarily lead to better profitability.
It is very seldom in this competition that the highest yielding plot is also the most profitable, but in 2019 that was the case. Congratulations to the students at Riverdale High School in Port Byron, IL for putting together the winning plot! Thank you to all schools who participated, and we look forward to conducting this competition again in 2020!