Farm Horizons, November 2011

Farm custom rates rising

By Dave Schwartz, Gold Country Seed

I worked with the University of Minnesota Extension Service out of the Meeker County office in Litchfield from 1982 - 2004.

One of the more popular publications requested at this time of year was the Custom Rate Survey. This was an annual survey done by the university to track down what farmers were charging for custom machine work (tillage, harvest, planting, etc.).

Farmers will often help neighbors out. They want to be fair and not overcharge, but they know expenses are rising, so they want to be sure to cover their costs. The Custom Rate Survey provided this type of information, so growers valued this data.

Since I left the university, I rarely referred to the survey. I thought it would be interesting to revisit custom rates in 2011. What I found was somewhat surprising in that custom rates have risen significantly since my Extension days.

Rates most likely rose on a relatively equal basis compared to other crop production costs.

The University of Minnesota Extension Service no longer does a survey so I checked out Iowa State University and found its 2011 survey results. If you would like the full report, do a Google search and check Iowa State Custom Rate Survey.

Below are Iowa custom rates reported on a per acre-basis including fuel and labor for harvest and tillage operations:

• Chopping corn stalks - $10.35

• Moldboard plowing - $15.

• Chisel plowing - $13.70

• Subsoiling 8-15 inches deep - $17.05

• Combine corn - $30.90 (with chopper head - $33.45)

• Combine soybeans - $29.65

• Complete harvest including combine, cart, haul to storage: corn- $40.80, soybean - $38.15

Added charge for GPS mapping - $2.25

Mid-September frost damages local crops

The frost in mid-September significantly reduced grain yields in Meeker and Wright counties. Many of our soybeans were planted in late May and early June so full-season lines needed an additional two weeks to reach maturity. Upper pods did not fill out well, so seed size was much smaller than normal.

I heard many of these fields running in the low 30s. Yields of earlier lines in the 0.8 maturity range yielded much better. Even though shorter season lines this year generally out-yielded the full-season lines, I would encourage growers to continue planting full-season beans as they typically out-yield shorter season lines on an average of 0.5 bushel per acre for each day less than what is considered full season.

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