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Farm profitability outlook updated after USDA reports

Farm profitability outlook updated after USDA reports

• Overall, after last Thursday’s reports, cotton’s profitability improved slightly, while grains dropped some.

Prices have been updated after the March 28 USDA Grain Stocks and Prospective Plantings reports.

Please note that I added a row on the bottom with breakeven prices at average yields and the specified costs including variable, land and fixed cost. Prices will vary depending on location and buyers.

Overall, after last Thursday’s reports cotton’s profitability improved slightly, while grains dropped some from after the March 8 USDA report.

This table should be used as a guide as yields, prices, and expenses will vary among producers and locations.

Yields are average yields for Tennessee with prices adjusted for the 2013 production year. Expenses will vary among producers and production systems.

One of the expense items that must be watched is fertilizer. For reference, in variable expenses below, fertilizer expense per acre is estimated as follows: cotton — $150, soybeans — $53, corn — $170 (includes 150 units of nitrogen), milo — $136, and wheat/soybeans — $131.

Weed control costs with resistant weeds have also been difficult to estimate. These costs will vary greatly among producers and individual fields. 

Production costs are estimates based on the 2013 University of Tennessee Crop Budgets, and these costs will be updated as warranted as we go through the year.

Please visit with your farm supplier on estimated costs in your area.

Producers with owned land and or cash rent can use Returns Over Variable as a guide in decision making. Producers with share rent ground should use Returns Over Variable and Land Costs as a guide with their appropriate share rent calculated.

A land cost of 25 percent of revenue is used in the table as a guide or method of comparison and should not be construed as the appropriate rent for a particular area.

Producers who are not making major equipment changes can use UT budgets and this table as a guide in developing their own cropping decision budgets.

If equipment changes are being made, then a whole farm financial plan would be better suited as a decision aid.

Please contact your local County Extension office or Area Specialist – Farm Management for assistance in developing your own budget or farm financial plan.


2013 Estimated Returns








865 lbs.

38 bu.

120 bu.

80 bu.

60 bu./27 bu.

Price (as of 3/28/13)

$0.87 lb.

$12.54 bu.

$5.42 bu.

$4.93 bu.

$6.81 bu./$12.54 bu.








Variable Expenses






Returns Over Variable






Land Costs (25% of Revenue)






Returns Over Variable and Land Costs






Fixed Costs
Depreciation & interest on machinery






Returns Over Specified Costs






Breakeven Price at Average Yield and Specified Cost

$0.88 lb.

$11.41 bu.

$4.90 bu.

$4.73 bu.

$6.93 bu./$11.71 bu.


Some differences have occurred due to rounding.


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