It’s Time to Count Our Blessings

Badger View

2013 has been a challenging year, but there is still much to be grateful for.

Published on: November 14, 2013

Thanksgiving is almost here and Christmas is just around the corner. Families and friends everywhere are gathering to share great food and celebrate the good things in each of our lives.

It’s also a good time to re?ect back on the year and count our many blessings. That may seem hard in a year plagued by a cold, wet spring and summer drought, but there are still plenty of reasons for Wisconsin farmers to be grateful in 2013.

Weather woes
Farmers across much of the state battled cold temperatures and excessive rain throughout most of April, May and June. As a result, many farmers finished up planting corn and soybeans and harvesting first-crop hay in mid-to-late June.

What farmers and consumers really need is for Congress to pass a farm bill by the end of the year.
What farmers and consumers really need is for Congress to pass a farm bill by the end of the year.

The weather changed dramatically by mid-July when abnormally dry weather with hotter temperatures began to settle in causing much of the state to receive little or no rain during August. The delayed planting schedule led to an unusually long corn silage harvest that began in early September and continued through mid-October. The good news was a late killing frost in October allowed late planted corn and soybean crops to mature. But the soybean and corn harvest was delayed due to the late planted crops and rains that slowed the harvest in late October and early November. As of the first week of November, only 45% of the corn crop and 75% of the soybean crop was harvested statewide compared to last year when nearly all of the soybean crop and 90% of the corn crop was harvested.

Crop prices
Despite a number of challenges, Wisconsin farmers still have many blessings to count this year:

  ¦ Corn yields in Wisconsin are predicted to average 145 bushels per acre in 2013. That’s up from 127 bushels in 2012. Locally, corn prices peaked in January at $5.65 per bushel. By November, prices dropped to about $4 per bushel. Last year, corn peaked at $8 a bushel in August and dropped to $6 by November.

  ¦ Soybeans are projected to average 40 bushels in 2013 compared to 39 bushels in 2012. Soybeans peaked locally at $13.27 a bushel in mid-September, and then slipped back to $12 by November. But that’s much less than growers received in 2012. Last year, soybeans peaked at $17 a bushel in early September and dropped to $14.75 by November.

  ¦ Wheat yields were a different story. Wisconsin wheat yielded an average of only 58 bushels per acre in 2013, compared to 75 bushels in 2012. 2013 was the lowest state wheat yield since 2005. However there were 20,000 more acres harvested in 2013 than in 2012. Wheat prices in 2013 peaked at more than $7.75 per bushel locally in February and slipped back to $6 per bushel in November. That’s less than growers were paid a year ago. In 2012, wheat prices peaked at $9 in mid-July and dropped to $7.90 in November.

Strong milk prices
¦ Dairy farmers are on pace to average $18 a cwt. for Class III milk in 2013 which isn’t bad with lower feed prices. There’s no doubt that’s way better than the pitifully low $11.36 average in 2009. Class III milk prices last year averaged $17.44 when feed prices were sky high. The 2014 milk price is expected to average $17.55, according to USDA estimates. Lower feed prices will likely help dairy producers’ bottom lines the second half of 2013 and all of 2014.