Corn, Soybean and Wheat Enterprise Budgets – Projected Returns for 2021 Increasing Fertilizer Prices May Force Tough Decisions

Source: Barry Ward, John Barker, OSU Extension

The profit margin outlook for corn, soybeans and wheat is relatively positive as planting season approaches. Prices of all three of our main commodity crops have moved higher since last summer and forward prices for this fall are currently at levels high enough to project positive returns for 2021 crop production. Recent increases in fertilizer prices have negatively affected projected returns. Higher crop insurance costs as well as moderately higher energy costs relative to last year will also add to overall costs for 2021.

Production costs for Ohio field crops are forecast to be modestly higher compared to last year with higher fertilizer, fuel and crop insurance expenses. Variable costs for corn in Ohio for 2021 are projected to range from $386 to $470 per acre depending on land productivity. Variable costs for 2021 Ohio soybeans are projected to range from $216 to $242 per acre. Wheat variable expenses for 2021 are projected to range from $166 to $198 per acre.

Returns (excluding government payments) will likely be higher for many producers depending on price movement throughout the rest of the growing year. Grain prices currently used as assumptions in the 2021 crop enterprise budgets are $4.30/bushel for corn, $11.55/bushel for soybeans and $6.25/bushel for wheat. Projected returns above variable costs (contribution margin) range from $216 to $434 per acre for corn and $284 to $509 per acre for soybeans. Projected returns above variable costs for wheat range from $193 to $342 per acre. As a reminder, fixed costs (overhead) must be paid from these returns above variable costs. Fixed costs include machinery ownership costs, land costs including rent and payment for owner operator labor and management including other unpaid family labor.

Fertilizer prices continue to increase.  If you have not checked fertilizer prices lately, be prepared for some sticker shock. Producers with some fertilizer purchased and stored or pre-priced prior to recent price increases will likely see a healthier bottom line this upcoming crop year.

Those with little or no fertilizer pre-purchased and stored or pre-priced may want to consider using P and K buildup to furnish crop needs this year in anticipation of possibly lower prices in the future.  Now may be a good time review your fertilizer plans as you are considering how to best utilize your financial resources in 2021.

  • Use realistic yield goals.  Yield goals vary by field.  Each field has unique characteristics that can impact yield.
  • Utilize crop removal rates to determine crop nutrient needs.  Crop removal rates can be found in the new Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, and Alfalfa (Tables 15 and 16), available at your local Extension Office.
  • Start with a recent soil test.  If your soil test levels are in the maintenance range or higher, 2021 may be a good year to “borrow” from your soil nutrient bank.

As an example, a 150-bushel corn crop will remove about 55 pounds of P2O5 per acre in the harvested grain.  This would result in a reduction in the soil test level of approximately 3 ppm.

Current budget analyses indicates favorable returns for soybeans compared to corn but crop price change and harvest yields may change this outcome. These projections are based on OSU Extension Ohio Crop Enterprise Budgets. Newly updated Enterprise Budgets for 2021 have been completed and posted to the Farm Office website: https://farmoffice.osu.edu/farm-mgt-tools/farm-budgets

 

Considerations of a Flexible Lease Arrangement

Source: Chris Zoller, Barry Ward, Mike Estadt, OSU Extension

Thousands of Ohio crop acres are rented from landowners by farmers.  While the most common is likely a cash agreement, the flexible lease may be worthy of consideration for some farmers.  This article will provide a broad overview of the flexible lease option, including advantages, disadvantages, and strucutre.

The information provided here is only a summary from the Fixed and Flexible Cash Rental Arrangements for Your Farm published by the North Central Extension Farm Management Committee.  Anyone interested in learning more about flexible leasing arrangements is encouraged to read more about this topic at this site: https://aglease101.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/NCFMEC-01.pdf.

What is a Flexible Lease?

Because of uncertainties with prices, yields, and input costs, some farmers and landowners are apprehensive about entering into a fixed long-term cash rental arrangement.  From the perspective of the farmer, the concerns include poor yields, commodity price declines, or sharp increases to input prices might impact cash flow if there is a long-term fixed arrangement.  In times like we are experiencing now, landowners want to capitalize on high commodity prices or high yields.

Therefore, the operator and landowner may turn to the use of a flexible cash rent of one kind or another. The idea of a flexible cash rent usually pertains only to the rent charged for cropland.

Advantage of Flexible Leases

  • Flexible cash rent enables the landowner to share in the additional income that results from unexpected increases in the prices of crops considered in the rent-adjustment clause. If the cash rent also is flexed for changes in yields, the landowner will benefit from above-normal yields regardless of the cause.
  • For the operator, risk is reduced. Cash-rent expense is lower if crop prices or yields are less than normal.
  • Calculating flexible cash rent requires more communication from both parties.

Disadvantages of Flexible Leases

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Farm Office Live Returns on February 10 & 12

Source: Peggy Hall, OSU Extension

Wondering what’s happening with CFAP, the Paycheck Protection Program, and Executive Orders?  So is the Farm Office team, and we’re ready to provide you with updates.  Join us this month for Farm Office Live on Wednesday, February 10 from 7–8:30 p.m. and again on Friday, February 12 from 10–11:30 a.m., when we’ll cover economic and legal issues affecting Ohio agriculture, including:

Status of the Coranivirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

Update on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Tax credits information

Executive Orders that may impact agriculture

Legal update on small refinery exemptions

Farm Business Analysis program results

Legislative update

Your questions

To register for the free event, visit this link:  go.osu.edu/farmofficelive

 

Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage for the 2021 Crop Year

by: Mary Griffith, Chris Zoller, Hallie Williams, OSU Extension Educators

Enrollment for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2021 crop year opened in October, with the deadline to enroll and make amendments to program elections on March 15, 2021. This signup is for potential payments for the 2021 crop.

If changes are not made by the March 15th deadline, the election defaults to the programs selected for the 2020 crop year with no penalty. While it is optional to make changes to program elections, producers are required to enroll (sign a contract) each year to be eligible to receive payments. So, even if you do not change your program elections, you will still need to make an appointment at the Farm Service Agency to sign off on enrollment for the 2021 crop year by that March 15th deadline.

Producers have the option to enroll covered commodities in either ARC-County, ARC-Individual, or PLC. Program elections are made on a crop-by-crop basis unless selecting ARC-Individual where all crops under that FSA Farm Number fall under that program. These are the same program options that were available to producers during the 2019 and 2020 crop years. In some cases producers may want to amend program election to better manage the potential risks facing their farms during the 2021 crop year.

As you consider amending your program choices, here are some important reminders:

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Ohio Farm Custom Rates 2020

Farming is a complex business and many Ohio farmers utilize outside assistance for specific farm-related work. This option is appealing for tasks requiring specialized equipment or technical expertise. Often, having someone else with specialized tools perform a task is more cost effective and saves time. Farm work completed by others is often referred to as “custom farm work” or more simply, “custom work”. A “custom rate” is the amount agreed upon by both parties to be paid by the custom work customer to the custom work provider.

Ohio Farm Custom Rates 2020 reports custom rates based on a statewide survey of 377 farmers, custom operators, farm managers, and landowners conducted in 2020. These rates, except where noted, include the implement and tractor if required, all variable machinery costs such as fuel, oil, lube, twine, etc., and the labor for the operation.

Some custom rates published in this study vary widely, possibly influenced by:

  • Type or size of equipment used (e.g. 20-shank chisel plow versus a 9-shank)
  • Size and shape of fields,
  • Condition of the crop (for harvesting operations)
  • Skill level of labor
  • Amount of labor needed in relation to the equipment capabilities
  • Cost margin differences for full-time custom operators compared to farmers supplementing current income

Some custom rates reflect discounted rates as the parties involved have family relationships or are strengthening a relationship to help secure the custom farmed land in a cash or other rental agreement. Some providers charge differently because they are simply attempting to spread their fixed costs over more acreage to decrease fixed costs per acre and are willing to forgo complete cost recovery.

The complete “Ohio Farm Custom Rates 2020” is available online at the Farm Office website here

 

Source: https://farmoffice.osu.edu/farm-mgt-tools/custom-rates-and-machinery-costs

 

Thinking about storing more grain this fall?

Source: Chris Bruynis, OSU Extension

There are several market factors that may have farmers looking to increase their storage for this fall. With lower prices, some farmers will look to store grain and hope prices will improve. With the current basis and price improvement between the harvest period compared to the January/March delivery period of 22 to 40 cents for corn and 16 to 34 cents for soybeans, elevators are sending a message to store grain.

The concern I have is that we will use some facilities that are not typically used for grain storage making aeration challenging at best. With poor air movement, grain going into storage will need to be of better quality, lower foreign material, and probably lower moisture.

Farmers interested in learning some strategies for successful drying and storage of grain, specifically corn and soybeans, are invited to join a Zoom Webinar on Monday August 24, 2020 at 8:00 PM.  Dr. Kenneth Hellevang, Ph.D., PE, Extension Engineer and Professor from North Dakota State University will be the featured speaker. He is one of the leading experts on grain drying, handling and storage.

To join the webinar, go to https://osu.zoom.us/j/7911606448?pwd=L1pQQ0VoODROZG56Q015enNBQkVVUT09 and enter the Password: STORAGE

Also, if you cannot attend the program during the broadcast time, the recording will be available on the Ohio Ag Manager website following the program. The recording will be located at  https://u.osu.edu/ohioagmanager/resources.

If you have questions, fell free to contact Chris Bruynis, bruynis.1@osu.edu or 740-702-3200. If you need assistance logging in on the evening of the program, contact David Marrison at 740-722-6073 or marrison.2@osu.edu.

Ohio Noxious Weed Law

Its that time of year when some of our ugly weeds begin to make their presence known by rising above crop canopies, appearing along the side of the road, etc.  I typically receive many questions about noxious weed identification, control, legal issues, and more.  Below is the first page of the OSU Law Bulletin on Noxious weeds.  Click here to download the complete bulletin.