What’s the value of
Crops and Soils Agent
University of Wisconsin - Extension
This has been the most
popular question of the week coming over my phone line and other popular
questions, even those constant harassments about me owing money, are not
close to challenging. What’s different this year? Well....one thing is the
value of nutrients removed by the straw and that’s precisely where we need
to start when determining value. Before we begin, I have read and heard some
outrageous figures along the line of fertilizer values and I’m not exactly
sure how these figures are being calculated unless there is a major increase
in fertilizer prices for next spring being built-in. Here’s what I know to
be a fact based on actual wheat straw nutrient analysis: one dry matter ton
of straw off the field contains (on average) 14 lbs. of nitrogen, 6 lbs. of
P2O5, and 29 lbs. of K2O. Using current fertilizer prices ($0.78/lb. N,
$0.70/lb. P2O5, and $0.58/lb. K2O), this equates to about $32 of fertilizer
equivalent per ton of dry matter. Most harvested straw is at least 7 percent
moisture, so the actual per ton fertilizer value is about $30. This is 2.5
times the value from just two years ago.
The seller then has to determine how much “profit” above fertilizer value is
reasonable. My sense is that this has been around $20 to $30 per ton based
on past transactions, but it’s certainly a negotiable figure. If we add the
$30 fertilizer credit to a $20 profit value, then the seller would be asking
$50 per ton for straw as it sits in the field behind the combine. The buyer
must then consider harvesting costs, which will vary based on harvest
method. Large bale harvesting will be the cheapest ($24-$27/ton), chopping
is next (about $30/ton), and small square bales the most expensive
($35-$45/ton). Of course all of these harvest costs are estimates based on
average custom rates and bale sizes and your own costs may be different.
It’s always best if prices can be
determined on a “per ton” rather than “per acre” basis. This takes the guess
work out determining actual yield. Average yields for wheat straw are about
1.5 tons per acre with a yield over two tons per acre being exceptional and
one ton very possible if stubble is cut high.
Wheat harvest ramblings.......
As the wheat harvest approaches, remember
that timeliness of harvest maximizes both yield and quality of the grain.
Once wheat reaches a suitable harvest moisture, test weight declines with
each wetting and drying cycle caused by rain. Even if it doesn’t look
different as the crop stands in the field.....it is.
more information contact Mike Rankin