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Economics of Replanting

When is replanting a crop the right choice?

When the early growing season is not going according to plan, replanting might be an option. However, farmers should carefully weigh the pros and cons of replanting before taking action. If replanting for the wrong reasons, you could waste time and money and, worst of all, still end up with an unhealthy start to the season.

Knowing the problem

Growers might consider replanting because of poor weather conditions in the early stages of crop growth (or in the case of transplanted crops, soon after transplanting) for a number of different reasons. Extremely cold temperatures, high winds and excessive rain can seriously damage fragile seedlings and transplants. A field could be infested with early-season insect pests or soilborne disease, or fields could be facing a particular wildlife problem, such as problems with deer feeding.

The important thing to remember when deciding a course of action is to make sure you know exactly why the crop is faring so poorly in the field. If plants are struggling due to any issue other than the weather, then the problem needs to be addressed before the new crop goes back into the ground, or the replanted crop will most likely suffer the same ill effects.

Should I replant my crops?

The question of whether or not existing plants will recover can be tricky. You do not want to replant if the existing plants are strong enough to survive and thrive. When examining young plants to see whether or not recovery is possible, look for any new growth and how the roots are doing.

Make sure that the numbers work: The total costs associated with replanting—in both time and money—must make economic sense. As with many farming decisions, it's a question of whether the investment would produce a profitable return.

Here are just a few of the factors that farmers need to take into consideration:

  • Expected date of replanting. This date determines the potential yield and income of the replanted crop. If the date is too late in the season to truly make a difference, then it might not be worth the effort.
  • Surviving plants. The number of surviving plants determines the potential yield and income of the existing crop. If there are plenty of healthy plants left, you don't want to tear up the field to replant if the existing crop could still be economically beneficial.
  • Pesticides. Chemicals applied to the previous crop could impact a replanted crop. The cost of pesticides already incurred should also be considered.
  • Stand uniformity. The stand uniformity of the plants determines if all or part of a field is in need of replanting.
  • Pests. Pressure from different pests change throughout a growing season, so you could be facing new pest threats at replanting that need to be addressed.
  • Nutrients. The nutrients added to the prior crop may not linger for the replants, which would alter your nutrient management plans and may require additional costs.
  • Insurance. It might make more sense to submit a crop insurance claim for the lost crops rather than trying to replant them.
  • Company policy. In the case of crops grown on contract or other arrangement with a third-party, the contracted company could have specific policies about replanting that you need to follow.

Making replanting decisions depend on many different production variables as well as their impact on your bottom line. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. For more information and advice on replanting, please contact your local Southern States Agronomy Expert or Extension office.

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