Prices high as harvest nears end
As harvest is wrapping up in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota ahead of normal schedules, farmers are receiving record or near-record prices for their crops. That's counter-cyclical to the more typical dive in prices as the crops come in. But ...
As harvest is wrapping up in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota ahead of normal schedules, farmers are receiving record or near-record prices for their crops. That's counter-cyclical to the more typical dive in prices as the crops come in. But a clear sign of the bullish demand that has been around for a year or more, propped up by some supply problems globally.
In North Dakota, 88 percent of the corn was combined by Sunday, ahead of the five-year average pace of 44 percent by Oct. 30, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's weekly crop progress survey. Soybeans were 98 percent harvested, compared with 82 percent in the five-year average in North Dakota; 59 percent of the sunflowers were harvested, ahead of the five-year average pace of 47 percent by now.
In Minnesota, 93 percent of the corn was harvested by Sunday, compared with only 60 percent by Oct. 30 on average from 2006-2010, the USDA reported; all but 10 percent of the sunflowers were combined, ahead of the five-year average pace of 63 percent by now.
The happy juxtaposition with average or near-average yields for most crops, with record or near-record prices means the region's farmers, despite a bad start to the season, were able to gross $600 to $700 per acre on edible beans, corn and sunflowers, and $350 to $450 per acre -- maybe better in some cases -- on soybeans and wheat, based on reported average yields and prices received in October.
Of course, many farmers across both states were unable to plant many fields due to the wet spring, a figure that doesn't show up in average yield and prices received numbers.
Also Monday, the USDA reported that North Dakota farmers received an average of $8.25 a bushel for spring wheat in October, up from $8.03 in September and $5.79 a year ago. That appears to be a record in nominal prices for October for spring wheat. However, from February through July of 2008, farmers in the state received from $10 to more than $12 a bushel for spring wheat, although there was very little available at the time and prices dropped $2 as harvest began.
From 2004-2009, average prices for the entire marketing year for spring wheat in North Dakota ranged from $3.36 to $7.45 a bushel.
Minnesota farmers received an average of $7.74 a bushel for all wheat in October, down from $8.13 in September and $5.72 a year ago.
Average prices received for corn in October by North Dakota farmers averaged $5.60 a bushel, down from the record level of $6.47 averaged in September, and well above the $3.87 they received a year ago.
Minnesota farmers received an average of $6 a bushel for corn in October, down 43 cents from September but well above year-ago prices of $3.95, according to USDA.
Prices received for soybeans averaged $11.50 a bushel to North Dakota farmers in October, and $11.20 to Minnesota farmers, down 20 cents and 70 cents, respectively, from September prices; a year ago North Dakota farmers received an average of $9.83 a bushel for soybeans and Minnesota farmers received $9.60.
One of the biggest price increases this year is in dry edible beans, which North Dakota leads the nation in producing; farmers received an average of $42 per hundredweight in October, up from $37.90 in September and a full $20 higher than year ago and more typical prices.
Prices received by North Dakota farmers for all sunflowers -- both oil and confectionery -- in October averaged $33.30 per hundredweight, up from $31.80 in September and $19.80 a year ago.
For comparison's sake: the highest monthly average of prices received for all sunflowers by North Dakota farmers from 2004-2009 was $27.80 and the average price received during that period was well below $20.
Oil sunflowers are bringing $37 per hundredweight at the crushing plant in Enderlin, N.D., according to the National Sunflower Association, which is based in Bismarck.
Sunflower growers are averaging yields of 1,800 pounds per acre in their harvest in North Dakota and 2,000 pounds in South Dakota, the Association reported Monday.
The great majority of the nation's sunflowers are grown in the two states.
Reach Lee at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 237; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org .