A new report released Wednesday revealed some big winners and losers in the area of crop value production in 2008 for North Dakota.
The report, released by the North Dakota field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, estimated North Dakota's 2008 crop production to be worth $6.59 billion, down one percent from the previous year. The value of production for each crop is calculated by multiplying the marketing year average price by production.
The big winner this year was barley, which saw a 39 percent increase in value from 2007 to a new record high of $423 million. Frayne Olson, crop economist for the North Dakota State University Extension Service, said it was the combination of a 10 percent increase in harvested acres and a $1 per bushel price increase that precipitated the overall value increase this year.
Similarly, it was the 20 percent increase in harvested acres and the modest increase in price per bushel that propelled winter wheat to a 13 percent increase in value from 2007.
Although dry edible beans suffered both yield and acreage losses in 2008, Olson said the $5 hike in price per hundredweight more than offset those factors, leading to a 14 percent overall increase in value to $315 million.
Many of the state's staple crops saw value declines including spring and durum wheat, corn (for grain), soybeans and sunflowers among others.
Barley, at $423 million, up 39 percent.
Dry edible beans, at $315 millian, up 14 percent.
Spring wheat, at $1.72 billion, down 1 percent.
Corn for grain, at $1.10 billion, down 1 percent.
Soybeans, at $958 million, down 8 percent.
Durum, at $435 million, down 8 percent.
All sunflowers, at $307 million, down 6 percent.
Oats, at $17.2 million, down 56 percent.
Lentils, at $28.8 million, down 13 percent.
Dry edible peas, at $112 million, down 20 percent.
Falling from record high values in 2007 was spring wheat, the state's biggest valued commodity, which dropped one percent to $1.72 billion. Corn for grain also fell one percent from its previous record high to $1.10 billion while soybeans fell 8 percent from their record, ending at $958 million.
Other staples such as durum wheat and sunflower fell 8 and 6 percent in value respectively from 2007, ending at $435 million and $307 million.
Although not a staple crop, oats saw the largest decline in value, dropping 56 percent to $17.2 million, which Kyle Nelson, agricultural statistician at the North Dakota field office, said was primarily due to a nearly 50 percent decline in harvested acres from 2007.
While it was a good price year for lentils, gaining more than $11 per cwt from 2007, Olson said the 10 percent drop in harvested acres and the nearly one-third drop in yield precipitated the 13 percent decline to $28.8 million.
On the same note, a more than 25 percent decline in yield for dry edible peas negated the slightly more than $1 gain per cwt, resulting in a 20 percent value loss from 2007.
Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated the total value of 2008 production to be $134 billion, down slightly from 2007's $136 billion.
"For those people who have been following the markets, the report reflects the changes that we have experienced over the last year," Olson said.
Tim Semler, Bottineau County Extension Agent, explained that the production report reflects both 2007 and 2008 - the two marketing years that encompass all of the crops. For 2007, most farmers experienced an excellent production year with above average yields and a good growing season, he said, but in the 2008 crop year there was a wider production gap with weather-related growing problems throughout the season. During the same timeframe, prices fluctuated greatly with corn prices peaking in late 2007 and durum prices in early 2008, pulling up all other commodities throughout the spring and early summer until they began a gradual decline which snowballed when the financial markets crashed in September 2008.
It is these combined factors that have farmers sitting on edge this spring.
Both Olson and Semler said farmers will be extremely cautious this spring with relatively high input prices and a tighter net income, making the margin for error even more narrow.
"For the 2009 growing season, producers need to manage their margins even more efficiently. Just because someone has a good gross net doesn't necessarily mean they will have a good net," Olson said.