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2019 outlook for area grain and brassica crops

December 22, 2018
By Kate Painter

Kate Painter
Kate Painter
Wheat appears to be the only profitable annual crop for North Idaho when considering market values for all factors of production, including land. Given the surplus of garbanzos worldwide, plus tariffs and quotas imposed by India, the price is not expected to rise significantly from its current level, $0.18 per pound, approximately half of last year’s price.

Peas and lentils are also impacted by tariffs imposed by China, which may or may not remain in effect.

The surplus of wheat stocks has diminished somewhat, and less is planted worldwide this year. Also, the dollar has lost some of its value. All of these factors help put upward pressure on wheat prices.

Canola prices remain steady, thus making this crop relatively more favorable for a rotational crop with net returns over total costs estimated at $ -44 per acre (Fig. 1), assuming an 1800 per acre yield and a farmgate price of $0.16 per pound (Table 1).

Net returns over total costs for winter wheat (WW) are predicted to be $32 per acre, assuming a yield of 90 bushels per acre and a price of $5.50 per bushel. Returns for soft white spring wheat (SWSW) are predicted to be -$1 per acre, with a price assumption of $5.50 per bushel and a yield assumption of 65 bushels per acre. Price projections for hard red spring wheat are less than the usual differential, with a net farmgate price estimate of $6 per bushel, resulting in a predicted loss of -$8 per acre.

Net returns over total costs for spring barley are estimated at -$53 per acre, assuming a 1.8 ton per acre yield and a net price to the farmer of $125 per ton.

An option to grow a soil-enhancing, nitrogen-fixing, or grazable cover crop might be of interest as a rotational crop. While growers will incur some costs for seeding and initial weed control, in some cases the benefits of increased organic matter, reduced labor and harvest expenses, nitrogen fixing or grazing might make this rotational option of interest. A detailed spreadsheet with cost and returns for each crop as well as several cover crop recommendations is available here.

In terms of 2019 growing conditions, producers here need to be aware of the lack of moisture and plan accordingly. The following tool, available at https://nasagrace.unl.edu/, allows you to check on groundwater as well as surface soil and root zone soil moisture conditions.

At this point, droughty conditions are indicated for our region. Given these droughty conditions, spring crops are less likely to fare well. Pastures will suffer as well.

Kate Painter is the University of Idaho Agricultural Extension Educator for Boundary County. She has a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Washington State University and has worked extensively in the areas of enterprise budgeting for Idaho crops and livestock systems, organic agriculture and small farm production.

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