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Survey shows North Dakota custom farm work rates

A farmer on a tractor seeding grain Lon Tonneson
FIELD WORK: A farmer seeds wheat in North Dakota.
Rates across the state were down slightly from the last survey in 2016.

Custom rates for early season field operations in North Dakota are down slightly for most operations from 2016 according to Ron Haugen, North Dakota State University Extension farm management specialist.

USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts a custom farming farm survey every four years. It recently summarized the results of the early season operations and published a report.

The rates for spring field operations were mostly likely lower because of the lower fuel prices, Haugen, says.

But not all custom rates were lower. Rates for fertilizer and pesticide applications and baling were generally higher. Also, there were significant increases in sheep shearing, calf branding and post hole digging rate, Haugen says.

The rates varied widely. For example, corn, soybean and sunflower planting rates ranged from $3 to $42 per acre. The most rate reported most often was $20 per acre.

The rates for small grain seeding with fertilizer application varied from $7 to $30 per acre. A rate of $17.82 per acre was the average.

Baling rates ranged from $.50 to $8 per bale for small square bales. A rate of $2 per bale was most common. Rates for putting up round bales that weigh more than 1,500 pounds varied from $3 to $25 per bale. A rate of $10 bale was the most common.

Tillage, pesticide application, fencing and branding were also covered by the spring survey.

The number of reports, the range in rates, the most frequently reported rates and the average rate for each operation are reported in the survey summary. Rates for 2020 are compared to rates reported in 2016, the last time the survey was done. Rates include charges for machines and equipment, tractor and power units, fuel, repairs and operator labor.

About 1,500 farmers, ranchers, aerial sprayers, elevators and custom operators answered the survey.

The early season operations publication can be found by visiting NDSU Extension online.

Late season operation rates will be published in December.

The custom rate surveys are funded by the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and NDSU Extension.

NDSU Extension Communication provided information for this article.

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