Projected Crop Profits for 2021 are Improved From 2020

Ron Haugen

DEVILS LAKE  - The North Dakota State University Extension projected crop budgets for 2021 are available for the state’s producers, says Ron Haugen, NDSU Extension farm management specialist.

The 2021 projected profits vary by region and crop.

“The budgets are guides for large multicounty regions,” says Haugen. “Returns and costs can vary considerably between producers within a region. Also, the budgets estimate returns to labor and management with no consideration of price and yield variability or risk. A perfect comparison of crops is not achieved because different levels of labor and management and risk exist.”

These neighbors came together to help North Dakota farmer Lane Unhjem after he suffered a heart attack, harvesting his crops for him and his wife, Julie.

Generally, most crops in all regions have improved profit from the previous year.

Hard red spring wheat projects positive returns to labor and management in all regions of North Dakota, with the northeastern region showing the most at $49 per acre

Apart from the pandemic, farmers in North Dakota have had some tough years recently, two years in a row where excess moisture and cooler weather hindered spring planting and fall harvest. Heavy snow, in some areas as many as 24 to 36 inches, too early in October of 2019, left most of the state's corn crop in the fields over winter freeze-up.

With the run-up in soybean prices, large positive returns to labor and management are shown in all regions. The southeastern region shows the largest soybean return at $122 per acre.

More:Dry Weather Decreases Risk for Wheat Midge in 2021

Corn projects positive returns in all regions, with a range from $44 to $107 per acre.

Malting barley shows great positive return, based on the market price used in the budget calculations. Malting barley contracts are encouraged to lock in a price. Barley is a crop that can be grown with reasonable input costs.

More:Advanced Crop Advisers Workshop Set for Feb. 9-10

34. North Dakota: Soybeans     • Value of most important product:  $2.1 billion     • Total crop production:  $11.0 billion (5th largest)     • Pct. of workforce in agriculture:  10.9% (11th largest)     • Other major crops:  Corn, cattle, and canola     ALSO READ: 25 Most Dangerous Drugs

“Specialty crops may show a positive return, but usually have limited contracts and acreages, and also may have higher risk,” Haugen says.

North Dakota farmers like John Weinand said many crops won't even be worth harvesting due to the severe drought this summer. A shortage of federal workers have left many farmers waiting a month or more for service, according to a Democratic senator.

“Generally, for most crops, the projected total costs per acre are generally flatter than last year’s projections,” he adds. “Fertilizer expense is slightly higher. Seed, chemicals and insurance costs are generally flat. Fuel, lube and repairs are slightly lower. Cropland rents for most regions are flat.”

More:Higher Feed Prices Pose Problems for Producers

 The NDSU Extension-developed budgets are available online at or by searching online for NDSU Crop Budgets.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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