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Grain Prices Shoot Up; Good News For Farmers?




The profitability of Fulton County farmers should be good this year, as grain prices have gone sharply higher.

Greg LaBarge, Fulton County Agricultural Extension agent, said future prices for corn almost hit $8 a bushel before backing off last week. On Monday, June 23, corn for December delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade was $7.50, he said.

Soybeans for November delivery were $15.

Prices have been pushed up by the demand for corn to feed a large number of new ethanol plants built or being built, to turn corn into motor fuel.

Another factor has been flooding in the Mississippi River Valley, particularly the corn-producing states of Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri.

Should Be Good

When asked if Fulton County farmers are in for a good year, LaBarge said, “The honest truth is, yes. Profitability should be good, up to this point.”

He said the corn crop is looking good, but there are some soybean fields with thin stands.

“You don’t have to go too far to find some rough-looking beans,” he said.

He also said not all farmers will share equally in the windfall.

Some have already contracted to sell the corn crop at lower prices.

“Corn at $3.60 sounded like an awfully good deal at the time,” he said.

Input Costs

But high prices don’t mean farmers are going to be awash in money.

“What’s on the mind of a lot farmers is as prices have gone up, input costs go up,” he said.

Input costs includes things such as seeds, fertilizer, and diesel fuel to run the machinery that plant, till, and harvest the crops.

Some were able to protect themselves from higher prices by prepaying for their supplies, locking in lower prices.

But with costs rising, “it’s very difficult to lock in input costs for more than a couple months.”

LaBarge said his recommendation to farmers “is to make sure you get your business in the best situation you can.”

Reduced Tillage

Years ago, farmers got away from the old-style plow, turning over the soil completely.

“Nobody has gone back to the moldboard plow. You may occasionally see a plowed field.

“Most people have gone to reduced tillage,” he said.

Now, with rising prices for a diesel fuel and fertilizer, farmers will begin looking at ways to cut the number of trips over the field and closely look at fertilizer.

He said not long ago phosphorus, a piece of the fertilizer puzzle, was going for $200 per ton. Now, the price is $1,100.

Farmers will be looking at things “with a sharp pencil, going after the benefits,” he said.- David Pugh


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