You’re thinking about letting someone else harvest some of your crop instead of buying a second combine. How much should you expect to pay per acre? Will you pay more for harvesting corn than soybeans? Will it be cheaper if you haul grain yourself rather than have the custom operator and crew haul it to your bins or to an elevator?
Michael Langemeier compiles data every other year to help answer questions like these through the Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture’s Custom Rates Survey. Extension educators helped distribute survey forms during the winter of 2020-21. The results are based on 97 respondents who participated in the survey.
Based on the 2021 numbers, you can expect to pay a hair more for harvesting corn than soybeans, averaging $30.26 and $29.39 per acre, respectively. Since more than 30 people responded, Langemeier included a variation measure, from $24.29 to $36.22 per acre for corn and from $23.67 to $35.11 per acre for soybeans. These aren’t the lowest and highest reported rates. Instead, they are one standard deviation above and below. About two-thirds of the rates reported fall within these ranges.
You will pay more to get grain to the bin or hauled to an elevator. Refer to the chart below for details. You should do some calculations to see if you can haul grain to bins or the elevator cheaper than you can hire it done. Labor availability may also come into play.
Note that since the variation in reported rates is large for many operations, you should only use these average rates as a starting point for establishing the custom rate you pay or charge in any given situation, Langemeier says.
More operations will be highlighted in future articles. To see the full report for all operations, complete with all qualifying comments, visit 2021 Indiana Farm Custom Rates.