Archive for Thursday, November 13, 2008

Low prices don’t make for happy harvest

Area farmers, such as Todd Dwyer, shown here near Vinland, have been harvesting corn and soybeans recently. While the harvest has gone well, the prices aren't so good.

Area farmers, such as Todd Dwyer, shown here near Vinland, have been harvesting corn and soybeans recently. While the harvest has gone well, the prices aren't so good.

November 13, 2008

Fall harvest has gone well for the most part, yield-wise, for area farmers. Unfortunately, like the stock market, they’ve seen the prices paid for their grain crash.

In July, the price of corn was $7.10 a bushel. Today, it’s $3.47. Soybean numbers are worse. July 4 saw them at $16 a bushel. Today, it’s $8.58. What makes the situation worse is when those crops were planted, inputs — most notably fertilizer and fuel — were at all-time highs.

It’s tough on the farm.

“But what are you going to do, stay awake at night?” said Mike Craig, who farms 1,500 acres of soybeans, corn and wheat in the Vinland area. “Unfortunately, you have to deal with it and hopefully next year will be better.

“Wheat has taken a tailspin, too,” said Craig. “We sold a little soybeans on the futures market, but not enough. Some guys will tell you to sell the corn now and the soybeans next year. It’s a tough game to play. You’ve got to have a good attitude. Most people do.”

Farmers are used to weather problems and sour economics aren’t uncommon, but this year has been different. Very different.

“A lot of the price wasn’t just farming, it was economic fear,” said Steve Wilson, owner of Baldwin Feed Co., whose elevator takes in most of the grain around the area. “A lot of other factors played into it, not just farming.

“The stock market tumbled and fear in the economy knocked the grain prices down when it shouldn’t have,” said Wilson. “When you’re sitting in a rain event somewhere and it stops harvest, it might push grain prices high. The stock market took care of that.”

It wasn’t Mother Nature so much this year. Most of the corn and soybeans are cut around Douglas County and the numbers are good.

“I think we’re about 75 to 85 percent done with the corn and maybe not so much with the soybeans because they were planted late and were green. I’d say 70 to 75 percent with them,” said Bill Wood, county extension agent.

Rain Monday and Tuesday put a halt to harvest, however.

“We’re going to have to wait awhile now,” said Wood.

He said the soybeans were averaging between 20 to 40 bushels an acre, which is right around the 2002-2006 average of 32.6 bushels. The average for corn is 97 bushels to the acre during the same time frame and this year’s crop is doing better.

“I’m hearing from 100 to 150 (bushels) on corn,” said Wood. “Most of the people I’ve talked to are satisfied on that. So our corn is doing better than average for the most part, but some fields are under.”

He hasn’t talked to Craig.

“I’d say we are average to below average. I’m not bragging on mine,” said Craig. “Everything was late. We knew we were losing bushels. I’m hearing other people are pleased.

“Seemed like this year we had to put insecticide down, which we don’t normally do,” he said. “It’s over for me, but next year will be better.”

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