Having choices is a good thing. But having many choices can get complicated. A new North Dakota State University Extension tool seeks to help farmers who potentially can grow many crops to make better-informed decisions on which ones to plant.

"We can grow a lot of crops besides corn and soybeans in North Dakota," said Ron Haugen, an NDSU farm management specialist who helped to prepare the 2020 Crop Compare program.

The program features a spreadsheet that allows producers to compare cropping alternatives. Farmers can enter expected yields and input costs for their own farm to come up with the price for a competing crop that would be necessary to return the same return over variable costs as reference crop.

A hypothetical example: A farmer in north-central North Dakota who's thinking about growing canola or spring wheat on a field could determine what sales price he would need for canola to give him the same return as wheat.

Final planting decisions won't be made until late winter or spring, and producers can reuse Crop Compare as weather and marketing scenarios change, Haugen said.

Unlike some major crop-producing states, where corn and soybeans dominate, North Dakota farmers have many choices.

Spring wheat, corn and soybeans are the region's three major, or most widely grown crops. North Dakota farmers raise all three, but produce many others, as well.

Though rankings can vary from year to year, farmers in the state typically lead the nation in production of spring wheat, durum, total edible beans, pinto beans, navy beans, canola, flax, total edible peas and honey. The state ranks second in black beans, great northern beans, lentils and sunflowers and third in oats, barley and sugar beets.

Though aimed primarily at North Dakota farmers, nearby ag producers in adjacent states - where soil and climate are similar - potentially can benefit, too.

To learn more about Crop Compare: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/news/newsreleases/2019/dec-23-2019/ndsu-offers-u....