Planting Progress Varies

If you ask someone how much corn is planted and how much spring fieldwork has occurred in their area, the response is likely to be quite different, depending on where the person resides. There are areas where a considerable amount of tillage has occurred and a significant amount of corn has been planted, while in other areas field conditions have been too wet to do any spring fieldwork. Some locations in extreme southern Minnesota have received 6-8 in. of rainfall in April, so soils are totally saturated, and standing water exists in some fields. As of April 21, very little fieldwork has occurred in many parts of the southern portions of South Central and Southwest Minnesota, and the adjacent areas of Northern Iowa. However, as you move north from that area, field conditions have been much more favorable, allowing most of the small grain and alfalfa to be planted, as well as early plantings of peas. There have also been spring tillage and fertilizer applications, and a considerable amount of corn planted in many areas.

Custom Rate Explanation
My April 10 column on “Farm Custom Rates For 2006” has stirred a lot of discussion in some areas. Primarily from providers of custom farm work, who have indicated that the average rates are too low to cover current costs of farm machinery operation, especially with the recent rapid rise in fuel costs. There is certainly some validity to these concerns. The average custom rates listed in the article were based on the annual “Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey” that is coordinated and analyzed by Iowa State University. The survey sampled 165 custom operators, farm managers and ag lenders late in 2005 on what they expected custom farm rates to be for various farm operations in 2006. Certainly fuel prices have changed considerably in the past 4-5 months, which means that average custom rates would likely be higher if the survey were taken today. Also, the Custom Rate Survey is meant to be a guide, and not the final word, on actual custom rates that are charged. There are a lot of variables involved in operation of farm machinery, and considerable variation due to demand and equipment availability in various locations. The “Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey” lists a range of custom rates that were reported, as well as the averages. This survey is available at the following web site: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/crops/pdf/a3-10.pdf

The University of Minnesota has a publication titled “Farm Machinery Economic Cost Estimates” that was last updated in late in 2005. This publication gives a good estimate of the ownership and operational cost of various farm machinery, and provides an estimate of fuel usage for various farming operations. This publication is available at the following web site: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/businessmanagement/DF6696.pdf.

Editors note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.