VALLEY CITY, N.D. (NewsDakota.com) – The following is a news release from Randy Grueneich Barnes County Extension Ag Agent.

“What new opportunities will 2021 bring to Barnes County farmers? Will the early, dry spring weather allow the thousands of prevent plant acres from 2020 to be planted early? Will the rain come at the right time and be enough to raise an above average crop? We can only guess what the weather will be in 2021, but farmers like to plan for the best. What about crop prices? Will they keep going higher or will they fall? Even though no one knows what crop prices will do in 2021, we can look at crop budgets for the last 12 years to see how today’s prices compare.

My resource for comparing crop prices is the publication “NDSU Projected Crop Budgets for South East North Dakota”.

I looked at budgets from 2010-2021 for the three main crops in Barnes County; Soybeans, Corn and Hard Red Spring Wheat. The budget number I am using for comparison from the budgets is the “Return to Labor and Management” which is the money left after paying all expenses except family living and management. Two years jump out of the budget data, 2013 and 2016. These are the years that set the bar for the highest (2013) and the lowest (2016) returns per acre. Corn had a projected return of $196 per acre in 2013 which was the highest return per acre for any crop in the budget data. Soybeans had a projected return of $144 per acre in 2013 and that was tied with 2011 for the highest soybean price in the budget data set.

Spring Wheat had a projected return of $108 per acre in 2013 which was also its highest return in the budget data set. The 2016 budget data set tells a very different story. This is the only year in the data set that has all three crops with negative returns per acre with Soybeans at – $2 per acre, Corn at -$12 and Spring Wheat at -$12 per acre. When I looked at the data for each individual crop for all the years I noticed some trends farmers have experienced for years. Even though Corn has the highest return per acre in 2013 it also has the longest string of negative years in a row (5) from 2015-2019. Soybeans on the other hand have only one negative year (2016). Hard Red Spring Wheat only has three negative years, but it has several years with lower returns per acre than Soybeans. When you average the “Return to Labor and Management” for each crop for all the years, Soybeans have the highest projected average at $67 per acre followed by Corn at $47 per acre and then Spring Wheat at $27 per acre.

This data set shows why Barnes County has more Soybean acres than any other crop and why Spring Wheat acres are decreasing. Projected returns for 2021 show Soybeans at $123 per acre, Corn at $108 per acre and Spring Wheat at $28 per acre. Market prices for all three crops have increased since the projected budgets were published so it looks like 2021 could be a year when opportunity is knocking.”

Randy Grueneich

Barnes County Extension Ag Agent