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Custom Rates and Planting Dates

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
April 16, 2014         
Source:  Dan Martens, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Custom Rates and Planting Dates
By Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (04/15/14) — A custom rate survey, like a lot of other information, can be viewed as a “starting point” for custom rate considerations. Some factors that might affect custom rates for individual situations include field size, field conditions, hazards like rocks, availability, travel distance, trading work, ownership and operating costs, other personal and business goals.

For the 2014 Iowa State Survey, the average price for diesel fuel was assumed to be $3.25 per gallon compared to $3.50 in 2013. A fuel increase of $0.50 per gallon might cause the total machinery cost to increase about 5 percent. The 2014 survey includes 195 responses including 27% doing custom work, 12% hiring work done, and 61% indicated both. Here are a few examples from the 2014 Iowa State Survey. The numbers are listed as the low response, average response, and the high response.

Moldboard Plowing
Low        Ave.         High
$12.00     $17.15     $25.00    

Chisel Plowing
$12.00     $16.15     $20.00

Tandem Disk
$7.00      $14.20      $21.00

Field Cultivating
$7.50       $13.80     $20.00

$4.00       $9.30      $15.00

Rotary Hoe
$5.50       $10.15    $15.00

Land Rolling
$5.00      $7.80       $15.00

Planting w/fert. & insect app
$12.00    $19.25    $30.00

Planting w/o attachments
$10.00     $17.85    $27.00

Drilling Soybeans
$10.00    $16.40     $25.00

Drilling Small Grain
$10.00     $15.30    $20.00

The Iowa State survey also reports numbers for renting some items. Custom farming numbers are listed for work that generally includes tillage, planting, pest control, and harvesting.

Average survey values may not cover total ownership and operating costs. U of M Extension Ag Economist Bill Lazarus outlines a process for estimating ownership and operating costs in a publication called “Estimated Costs for Farm Machinery Operations.”

You’re welcome to call the Extension Office for a copy on either of these items. Internet users can also do a search for the title of either article and find it fairly easily. In Stearns county, if a local call to St. Cloud, call 255-6169 or 1-800-450-6171; in Benton if a local call to Foley 968-5077 or 1-800-964-4929; in Morrison if a local call to Little Falls 632-0161 or 1-866-401-1111. 


For SMALL GRAIN, we might like to be planting by the third week of April for best yield potential. The last week of April can still work pretty well. Yields start to drop significantly when planting after the first week or 10 days in May. If you use an optimum planting date of April 20-25, you might increase planting rate by 1% for each day after that to compensate for yield loss potential. Straw is important along with grain on some farms.

For CORN, in central Minnesota we can plant until about May 10th and be within 1% of optimum yields. We can stay with what we’d normally plant as full season hybrids until about May 25th.

For SOYBEANS, we generally expect optimum yields in planting by the middle of May.

Your own past experience and common sense are important in making planting decisions. The results of a particular planting date are obviously affected by what happens the rest of the year.


Daniel Martens
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 968-5077
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