So beyond sitting in the combine and seeing what is rolling into the grain tank, what numbers can we find within yield data that can make the biggest difference to next year's bottom line? For growing corn I like to start with population and its effect on yield. 

A couple examples to illustrate this: 

180 bushels per acre from 24,000 harvestable ears gives us 7.5 bushels of corn per 1000 plants. 180 bpa / 24k ears = 7.5 bushels per 1000 ears

180 bushels per acre from 30,000 harvestable ears gives us 6.0 bushels of corn per 1000 plants. 180 bpa / 30k ears = 6 bushels per 1000 ears. 

There are many factors that go into the results of these numbers in each field and for that matter within each field; hybrid, weather, rotation, nutrient management and on and on. Its easy to just run to weather and use that as the #1 factor as to the outcome of yield. While this can be true don't always use weather as the biggest factor in every outcome. So in this example we have a 20% difference in population and achieved the same yield. So a $250 bag of corn in these examples would have had a seeding cost of $75 an acre @ 24k and $93.75 an acre @ 30k. Almost $19 an acre difference to achieve the same yield. Now analyze the growing season along with the other agronomic factors that went into your yield and figure out if 6 bushels or 7.5 bushels per 1000 plants is consistently possible like in this example. Use actual numbers for one of your fields. Then dive farther inside that field and see what certain areas are doing with yield in relation to popuation. By starting to look at yield in relation to management practices we can make decisions that have a true impact to the bottom line.