ST. JEAN BAPTISTE, Man. — Soy hot, wheat not?
That might have been the case in recent years in Manitoba’s Red River Valley but not now, at least not in terms of profitability.
“If I did this four, five, six, seven years ago, I could pretty much turn this thing upside down,” said farm business management specialist Dan Caron of Manitoba Agriculture during St. Jean Farm Days.
He was referring to a chart showing projected 2013-14 spring wheat margins of $191.36 per acre and soybean margins of $140.61.
Soybeans were popular and profitable in recent years, while wheat generally was Red River farmers’ least favourite crop.
Winter wheat profit projections for 2013-14 are even stronger, at $295.71 per acre, because of the Midwest drought and the continuing problems in the U.S. hard red winter wheat area.
Canola, projected at $166.32, is in the middle of the pack along with oats, and in the unusual position of seeming to have mediocre prospects.
The projections are based on operating costs subtracted from present forward new crop prices applied to average yields.
Caron acknowledged that it is hard to estimate reasonable yields after recent years of unusual weather in Manitoba.
Not only does southern Manitoba have new crops, such as soybeans and corn, spreading to hundreds of thousands of acres, but unusually warm and dry summers for two years in a row have given farmers excellent yields on crops that might not be possible in a more “normal” year.
On the other hand, many farmers will be able to well exceed provincial average yields on new crops if they have developed skills for them.
For example, Caron used an estimate of 100 bushels per acre as an expected yield for corn, but an experienced grower will likely do better than that.
“I think there is profitability to be had if you are a good corn grower,” he said.