Farm Progress

A Texas AgriLife Extension Service custom operator rate guides offers farmers, ranchers and custom operators guidelines for pricing work.

Ron Smith 1, Senior Content Director

August 29, 2013

3 Min Read
<p> A Texas AgriLife Extension Service custom operator rate guides offers farmers, ranchers and custom operators guidelines for pricing work, such as raking hay.</p>

If a cotton farmer in North Texas needs to hire someone to strip or pick his cotton this fall, he’ll likely pay about 9 cents a pound to get it done. In South Texas, he may have to pay a penny more to get cotton stripped but 3 cents more if he wants a picker to harvest it. In East Texas, cotton farmers will pay about 10 cents to get cotton stripped. There are no figures for picker rates available for East Texas cotton.

In West Texas, expect to pay 10 cents for a stripper harvest and 12 cents for a picker. State average is 9 cents to strip cotton and 11 cents to have it picked. But the rate could range from a low of 6 cents a pound for stripping cotton to a high of 15 cents to hire a picker.

These rates are all based on surveys conducted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and included in their most recent Custom Rates Survey of regional and state rates charged for custom agricultural operations.

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The survey was conducted last spring.

“Each year, AgriLife Extension receives many requests for prevailing rates for certain kinds of work and custom farm or machine operations,” said Dr. Steven Klose, AgriLife Extension economist in College Station. “This is an update of information that has been used extensively over the years.”

The guide consists of 32 pages and includes rates for most any operation a farmer might need to hire out.

It even includes the rate charged for those new cotton pickers, with on-board module builders. In North Texas, cotton farmers can expect to pay about 13 cents a pound, with South Texas rates a penny higher.

Digging and shaking peanuts runs about $25 per acre, according to the guide.

Spray applications also vary. In North Texas—and this zone includes most of the South Plains area—farmers will pay about $5.73 per acre to have an insecticide or fungicide applied by air. In South Texas, the rate goes up to $7.67 and West Texas farmers will pay 6.25 per acre. No figures are available for East Texas aerial application.

Ground applications run $5.44 for North Texas, $6.39 for East Texas, $7.15 for West Texas and $7.88 for South Texas.

North Texas farmers can expect to pay 43 cents a bushel to have corn harvested. That’s a flat rate fee and includes combining and hauling. West Texas grain farmers will pay 62 cents and South Texas rate is 41 cents per bushel. No figures are given for East Texas.

Other grains and soybeans are also provided as well as per acre rate for grain harvest and hauling.

The publication also includes rates for tractor rental, tillage, planting, application of fertilizer and lime, haying and silage operations, land preparation, brush control, other farm and ranch operations, miscellaneous livestock operations, and consulting services.

Klose says more data are available for some operations than for others and varies region by region.

“Information can be somewhat limited on specific custom work done in parts of Texas,” he said. The publication offers a range of rates for a variety of farming operations and will be useful to farmers, ranchers and custom operators.

To view rates for a host of custom operations, click here.

About the Author(s)

Ron Smith 1

Senior Content Director, Farm Press/Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 40 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. More recently, he was awarded the Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement Award by the Texas Plant Protection Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Johnson City, Tenn. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and three grandsons, Aaron, Hunter and Walker.

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