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Monday, March 1, 2010

On Growing Grain

I took this picture a couple of weeks ago when I had the trucks come in to haul out my wheat contract. Those two big semis moved over 4000 bushels down the road in 4 loads in a short day. Everything worked just the way its supposed to and even the weather co-operated. I was glad to see that tough grain moved as it is always risky storing grain at high moisture. Some of this tested as high as 17% which is 2.5% above dry. Thanks to our extreme cold winter weather we can get away with holding that grain through the winter without spoilage, usually.
Interesting to review the settlement tickets though. Our Canadian wheat board advertises a price of $4.67 per bushel for that #1 low protein. Sounds pretty good at first but looking a little closer we see that the terminal wants 38 cents a bushel for elevation. Another 15 cents a bushel for cleaning ( I suppose they give the screenings away?). Then the CWB charges 78 cents a bushel to move that grain to its final destination. Not done yet there is another 22 cents deduction for "FAF", not sure what that is. And being that it is tough (damp) grain the terminal charges 11 cents a bushel for drying. Just to confuse you further, the terminal pays me 15 cents a bushel to help offset the trucking charges so that puts my net at $3.18 per bushel.
Based on what the wheat board finally sells the grain for, we will receive a final payment next December/January but its anybody's guess at this point how much or how little it will be.
Just as a point of interest, that $3.03 will not buy a gallon of car gas today but it might just about cover a gallon of farm diesel fuel. I haven't bought any lately.
In my early days of farming (1971) wheat was being bartered off for $1 a bushel as there was a glut of wheat on the market. That bushel of wheat would buy 4 gallons of farm fuel at that time.
Just something to think about as I am trying to decide what to plant this spring.


  1. We were looking for above $5 for soft white wheat. It is down below $4.50 for august delivery right now. We think that is a bad price. What a way to make a living!
    Wheat prices above $4 and below $10 are good for my no-till business. When wheat prices are really good people want to farm the ground!
    I wish oats and barley were better. I need a few more planting acres for my drill payment.

  2. I think we've all noticed the descrepancy between the prices the landowner gets (crops, timber, even coal and such)and the prices we have to pay for things. That's why the old co-ops were founded in this country, but they seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur. Maybe "the powers that be" didn't like the idea of self-help.

  3. Co-ops, ha! They worked fine when they were local or county wide but... They have all been bought up by other co-ops so they are state wide, or multi-state which I suppose helps on the national scale but not so much on the local. I think... Get big or get out!
    Oops, I've hi-jacked someone else's blog! Sorry!

  4. You guys are both right, Co-ops began at the grass roots level years ago and did a lot of good. But many have gotten big and got out of the small towns. Sask. Wheat Pool for example, now a multi-national company known as "Viterra". The farmer used to have a say in the company, not anymore.

  5. And Farm Bureau. Good idea when they started, now a mouthpiece for industry. Tail wags the dog.
    Begun practically in 1911, formally in 1919, its early goals of raising net farm income and making the country a better place to live have been subverted by the interests of entities like Monsanto and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. We have a small grass roots movement called Practical Farmers of Iowa who network and help each other with exploration of tillage methods, marketing and more. Young idealistic folks, mostly. Probably what Farm Bureau felt like back in the day.

  6. I started teaching in 71 while I was still farming, 21 years old and got married. I planted the most wheat I ever planted in my life and the high has been 5.91 local and now closer to 4.50 It doesn't look good.