Crop production cost estimates now available

If you like cropping budget calculations, check out Guidelines for Estimating Crop Production Costs 2019 in Manitoba.

It’s freshly posted on Manitoba Agriculture’s website. The publication includes a great deal of detail, even going so far as to estimate fuel use with assumptions for the number of field operations and the consumption of fuel per acre.

Of course, yields and prices are just an educated guess; everyone’s numbers will be different and everyone should go through the calculations using their own data. That said, it’s still interesting to see which crops are winners and which are losers based on the assumptions of farm management specialists.

Hard red spring wheat remains the largest acreage crop in Manitoba. Assuming a target yield of 55 bushels an acre and an estimated price of $6.75 a bu., wheat fails to cover total costs (operating, fixed and labour costs). The loss is $13 an acre. On other types of wheat, including winter wheat, the yields are higher, but the price is lower and the loss per acre is even higher.

The number two crop by acreage in Manitoba is canola, where a 40 bu. per acre crop at $11 a bu. is assumed. Despite operating costs that are $40 an acre higher than spring wheat, canola generates a small profit of about $16 an acre given all the assumptions.

Soybeans have grown to be the third largest crop in Manitoba and the analysis puts soybeans as by far the most profitable of the three majors. The yield assumption is 38 bu. an acre at a price of $11, generating a return of nearly $46 an acre over total expenses.

Interestingly, most analysts expect soybean acreage to drop in Manitoba and Saskatchewan following some disappointing results in 2018. Based on the Manitoba Agriculture assumptions, soybeans could be one of the top revenue performers behind only pinto beans and corn, which are not as widely adapted to all regions of the province.

Hard red spring wheat, canola and soybeans accounted for 80 percent of Manitoba’s seeded acreage in 2018. Oats, corn and barley are much smaller acreage. Oats show a small profit of $11 an acre based on a 105 bu. yield and a price of $3.35. Barley shows a significant loss of $56 an acre based on a yield of 73 bu. and a price of $4.10.

Pea acreage in Manitoba is tiny with only 84,000 acres in 2018. At an assumed price of $7 a bu. with an estimated yield of 40 bushels, peas show a loss of $36 an acre when all costs are included.

When the big pea fractionation plant at Portage la Prairie is operational, a lot of the peas are likely to be trucked in from Saskatchewan, where the acreage is 20 times larger.

At one time, Manitoba was the largest province for flax production. That has changed dramatically with a mere 36,000 acres of flax last year. The Manitoba yield assumption is 24 bu. per acre at $12.75 a bu., generating a loss of nearly $40 an acre.

This is the time of year for cropping budgets. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture’s Crop Planning Guide for 2019 should be available shortly. In addition to yields, prices and operating costs, it’s interesting to contrast the fixed-cost assumptions for land and machinery within the publications.

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