Soybeans may be one of the most profitable crops to grow in 2014 in North Dakota, says Andy Swenson, North Dakota State University Extension farm management specialist.
In the NDSU Extension Service's annual budget projections, soybeans are projected to return an average of $63 per acre to management and labor outside of the western regions of the state. In the southeast, the return is projected to be $84 per acre. In the southwest and northwest regions, returns are projected to be $21 and $28 per acre, respectively.
Corn and spring wheat returns are projected to less than for soybeans. The range is from minus $13 per acre to a positive $18 per acre for corn and minus $8 per acre to a positive $37 per acre for spring wheat across nine regions of the state.
"Surprisingly, corn looks more profitable at $18 in the northwestern region than spring wheat at minus $8, while in the southeastern region, spring wheat at $37 projects better than corn at $14," Swenson says.
However, projections do not account for variability in yields and prices. Producers in the northwestern region know that there is more risk with corn yields and drying costs, and producers in the southeastern region know that there is more price risk because of spring wheat quality discounts, Swenson says.
Dry beans also look strong, with per-acre returns to labor and management averaging more than $100. This would indicate an increase in acreage. However, soybeans, which compete with dry beans for acreage, also are profitable, require less labor and management, and have less production risk. Dry beans have the largest per-acre advantage in net return, compared with soybeans at $70 in the northeastern region, which consists of Cavalier, Nelson, Ramsey and Towner counties.
Canola returns to labor and management range from $45 per acre in the northeastern region, which contains the largest canola-producing counties of the state, to minus $25 in the southeastern region.
Flax returns to labor and management are $71 per acre in the northeastern region, $56 per acre in the north-central region and nearly $50 per acre in the southwestern and northwestern regions. The lowest return for flax is $19 per acre in the southeastern and south-central regions.
Malting barley and rye project the highest returns of the small-grain crops. Malting barley per- acre returns to labor and management are around $50 to $60 in the northeastern, north-central, northwestern and south-central regions. However, if barley does not make malting quality and is sold for feed, the returns quickly turn negative at around minus $40 per acre. Rye, which is a small-acreage crop, returns more than $60 per acre in regions for which it is budgeted.
The north-central region shows the highest per-acre returns to labor and management for yellow field peas at $35. However, returns from yellow peas only average $5 throughout all other regions. Green field peas, which have more quality and price risk, look attractive and will gain acres. Green peas have returns ranging from $52 per acre in the northern valley and southeastern regions to $99 per acre in the north-central region.
Oil sunflowers show moderate returns to labor and management by ranging from $30 to $45 per acre in the western and central regions, but near the break-even point in other regions. Confectionery sunflowers project strong returns, especially in the north-central and south-central regions, where the return is about $140 per acre.
Based on budgets prepared for lentils in the western and north-central regions, returns to labor and management should be about $30 per acre.
Oats and millet are the only two crops that show very negative returns in all regions.
Some minor acreage crops project strong per-acre returns to labor and management. These crops are led by yellow mustard at $140, safflower in the western regions at $80 and buckwheat at around $55. However, these crops have a higher production risk, Swenson says.
The budgets are available on the Web at http://tinyurl.com/NDCropbudgets.