Happy Friday, all!
I know this thread is a bit old, but... this related AP article in my email caught my attention and I thought I'd post it for the curious:
Custom cutters, farmers brace for expensive winter wheat harvest amid soaring fuel prices
May 30, 2008 Associated Press Online
By ROXANA HEGEMAN
WICHITA, Kan., May 30, 2008 (AP Online delivered by Newstex) -- Custom cutters and farmers alike are bracing for what will likely be the most expensive winter wheat harvest ever amid record high fuel prices.
Steve Shepherd, president of U.S. Custom Harvesters, an industry trade group, said custom cutters don't even know how much to charge farmers this year amid rising costs. He suspects there will be hard feelings.
"Our costs are so high and farmers are going to be against it. Everything went up," said Shepherd, of Onida, S.D., who has been harvesting crops in Arizona and California for three weeks. In that time, gas prices have risen 65 cents a gallon, he said.
And it's not just fuel that is going up -- equipment and other costs are increasing as well.
"It is going to be the most costly harvest," said Kevin Dhuyvetter, a Kansas State University agricultural economist who produces the U.S. Custom Harvester's annual Custom Harvester Analysis and Management Program report.
Farmers can expect to pay between $7 and $10 per acre more to cut their wheat this year compared with a year ago, said Robert Belt, a custom cutter from Kingman.
The cost of custom cutting is figured based on negotiated prices for cutting and hauling the crop per acre, and considers the yields in the calculations. And then there is the fuel surcharge. All told, it may cost farmers around $35 per acre to cut a typical 40-bushel-per-acre field, Belt said.
He said he spends between $3,000 and $4,000 a day in fuel to run his five combines, which doesn't include the gas he puts into the grain trucks that haul the crops to elevators.
This season's harvest costs will be eased somewhat by the soaring prices farmers are getting for those crops.
Farmers who have normal yields this year -- and sell their crop at current prices of around $7.50 a bushel -- are going to make money, Dhuyvetter said.
Winter wheat is seeded in the fall for harvest the following summer. It has become popular because it saves farmers time in the spring, and yields have been strong in recent years. Also, prices have moved closer to those for spring wheat after years of running behind.
Winter wheat harvest is now under way in southern states like Texas and Oklahoma.
With the harvest at least three weeks away in Kansas, some farmers here are also concerned about whether there will be enough custom cutters to harvest the wheat crop in a timely fashion.
Cool, wet weather has delayed crop maturity in southern counties where the harvest typically begins, said Dusti Fritz, chief executive officer for Kansas Wheat, a venture of the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers.
"We are probably going to be harvesting in all four corners of the state at the same time," Fritz said.