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Check out Pennsylvania custom rates

For the first time since 2016, Pennsylvania producers have official custom rate information.

Chris Torres

December 27, 2023

3 Min Read
An aerial view of a tractor planting crop seeds
PREP FOR PLANTING: If you hire custom operators to plant your fields, check out published custom rate surveys to ensure you’re getting a fair price. BanksPhotos/Getty Images

Just in time for the new year, the Pennsylvania office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service has released its newest Machinery Custom Rates Report — the first time a custom rates report has been done for the Keystone State in seven years.

Nearly 1,400 respondents provided information on various custom farming rates in their area after the conclusion of the 2022 growing season. Kevin Pautler, deputy regional director for NASS in the Northeast, says about 4,000 surveys were mailed, with responses submitted via an online portal.

Here are some highlights from the survey:

Planting

No-till corn and fertilizer: The range is $22 to $36 an acre, with the state average at $30 an acre.

No-till soybeans and fertilizer: The range is $25 to 35 an acre, with the state average at $29.70 an acre.

Weed spraying: The range is $10 to $42 an acre, with the state average at $16.50 an acre.

Fertilizer application

Bulk dry, broadcast: The range is $8 to $17 an acre, with the state average at $14.20 an acre.

Liquid, broadcast: The range is $10 to $35 an acre, with the state average at $19.50 an acre.

Liquid, sidedressing: The range is $10 to $16.50 an acre, with the state average at $15.90 an acre.

Manure application

Loading, base rate: The range is $15 to $120 an hour, with the state average at $86.60 an hour.

Spreading, base rate: The range is $15 to $130 an acre, with the state average at $69.30 an acre.

Dry manure spreading: The range is $6.40 to $14 a ton, with the state average at $11.10 a ton.

Liquid manure spreading and removal: The range is $6 to $19 per 1,000 gallons, with the state average at $11 per 1,000 gallons.

Combining

Corn: The range is $30 to $48 an acre, with the state average at $38.60 an acre.

Soybeans: The range is $32 to $48 an acre, with the state average at $38.70 an acre.

Silage

Corn chopping: The range is $110 to $455 an hour, with the state average at $305 an hour.

Corn chopping and hauling: The range is $165 to $600 an hour, with the state average at $338 an hour.

Corn, chopping and hauling (per ton): The range is $5 to $9.65, with the state average at $7.30.

Tips for shopping or setting rates

Neighboring states have continued doing custom rate surveys since the previous Pennsylvania survey was done. Maryland and Delaware released a custom rate survey earlier this year, while Ohio and New York released custom rate surveys last year and will likely update them in 2024.

Ohio State Extension recommends growers calculate their own costs before determining the custom rate to charge or pay. The University of Minnesota and Iowa State University have online tools that can help you calculate machinery costs.

The University of Maryland reminds growers that there are wide ranges with some operation charges. Variations may be due to lack of knowledge about charges and difference in location; topography; field size and shape; crop yields; soil conditions; weather conditions; work quality; equipment type and size; timeliness; or the ratio of available jobs to custom operators. Crop budgeting information can be found at extension.umd.edu.

Penn State Cooperative Extension reminds growers that rates can vary greatly depending on size and shape of fields, crop condition, skill level of labor and other factors.

Story links

Ohio State custom farming rates

Maryland/Delaware custom farming rates

New York custom farming rates

About the Author(s)

Chris Torres

Editor, American Agriculturist

Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.

Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.

"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."

Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.

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