High input costs not detering farmersFor the past few weeks Mother Nature has been teasing farmers with the promise of spring weather, but time and time again their hopes are dashed when they wake to another blanket of snow. As if that wasn’t enough, experts are predicting higher input costs this year.
For the past few weeks Mother Nature has been teasing farmers with the promise of spring weather, but time and time again their hopes are dashed when they wake to another blanket of snow. As if that wasn’t enough, experts are predicting higher input costs this year.
North Dakota Field Office National Agricultural Statistics Service Deputy Director Patrick Boyle said farmers in southwest North Dakota may be able to start their tractors and head into the fields as early as April 26, about eight days later than last year.
“Right now I bet there are a lot of farmers chomping at the bit to make what looks like a good year become a reality, and the first step is to put the seed in the ground,” North Dakota State University Extension Service Farm Management Specialist Andrew Swenson said.
Though it’s looking to be a good year, one downside is the higher prices of small grain seed, crop insurance, fuel and fertilizer, he said.
He expects fertilizer costs to rise 50 percent from last year and fuel bills by 20-25 percent.
Fertilizer prices at Alliance Ag Cooperative in Regent have increased by 25 percent, Manager Tim Spitzer said, adding the main reason for the increase is competition and production.
“Depending on the crop and coverage level, farmers paid up to 50 percent more in crop insurance than they did last year,” he said. “But getting it is worth it.”
One nice thing is crop chemicals like weed spray prices are comparable to last year, he added.
Swenson predicts a positive year because he says the higher crop prices will offset higher input costs.
“But there are no guarantees in farming, no one knows what yields will be or if the prices will stay the same,” Swenson said.
Hebron farmer Darrel Schulte says he isn’t phased by the predictions and is ready to venture into his fields.
“We’ll take what we get and make the most of it,” Schulte said.
April 26 sounds like a good day to start, he said jokingly.
The key factor in the starting date is moisture, Boyle said.
“It really depends on when the snow melts,” Boyle said. “And the amount of rain we get this spring. The fields have to be fairly dry in order to start.”
Schulte agrees but added the moisture isn’t a bad thing.
“With the snow melting like it is and the ground soaking it in, it makes for a lot of subsoil moisture and that subsoil moisture is what might pull a guy through a dry spell,” Schulte said.
He also keeps costs in mind.
“The higher input costs are manageable when the prices are good, but if they fall it will definitely put a crunch on things,” Schulte said.
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