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Published May 29, 2009, 12:00 AM

Crop prices see resurgence

Rally reflects planting delaysCrop prices have rallied the past few weeks, encouraging area farmers to keep planting despite the wet spring.

By: Jon Knutson, INFORUM

Crop prices have rallied the past few weeks, encouraging area farmers to keep planting despite the wet spring.

“The market is working like it’s supposed to,” said Dave Torgerson, executive director of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers in Red Lakes Falls.

North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota are leading producers of the type of wheat used to make bread.

But the wet spring has allowed North Dakota farmers to plant only

70 percent of their wheat, compared with the five-year average of 95 percent planted by late May, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Seventy-one percent of Minnesota wheat is planted, compared with the five-year average of 99 percent, the USDA said.

Though every growing season is different, late-planted crops typically yield less than ones planted early.

For instance, wheat yields typically decline

1.5 percent for each day the crop is planted after May 15, according to the North Dakota State University Extension Service.

A wheat field yielding 40 bushels per acre if planted on May 15 would yield 31 bushels if planted on May 30, using the NDSU number.

When wheat sells for $6 per bushel, a field yielding 40 bushels per acre grosses $240 per acre.

At $6 per bushel, a field yielding 31 bushels per acre grosses $186 per acre.

At $7 per bushel, a field grossing 31 bushels per acre grosses $217 per acre.

By offsetting at least some of the potentially lower yields, higher wheat prices encourage farmers to plant wheat instead of switching to other crops, Torgerson said.

Even so, many area farmers are likely to plant soybeans in fields originally planned for wheat or corn.

Soybean prices have done relatively well this year, reflecting repeated Chinese purchases of U.S. beans and drought in Argentina, a major soybean producer, said John Sanow, grains analyst with DTN, an Omaha, Neb.-based information services company.

Dennis Feiken, a

LaMoure, N.D., farmer, said higher soybean prices are causing him to plant soybeans on land he had intended for corn.

Another attraction of late-planted soybeans: They hold up better than late-planted corn to fall frost.

USDA predicted this spring that North Dakota farmers would plant

3.9 million acres of soybeans.

“I think we’ll end up seeing more than that,” Feiken said.

The price rally has led farmers to sell a portion of their anticipated 2009 crop, said Paul Coppin, general manager of Reynolds (N.D.) United Co-op.

“We’re seeing some selling,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530

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