Specialty crops bidding for acres in 2012

A North Dakota farm management specialist says returns from minor crops such as safflower, buckwheat, mustard, rye and millet may be more competitive this year.

"It has been a challenge for buyers of minor crops to ‘bid for acres’ when prices for major crops, such as wheat, corn and soybeans, have been at historically high levels during the past five years," Andy Swenson, North Dakota State University Extension Service farm management specialist said in a release. "However, projected prices indicate that minor crops have collectively taken a deep breath, cinched up their belts and decided to fight for acres."

The NDSU release says the price of buckwheat is up more than 20 per cent, while mustard, safflower and chickpea prices increased more than 50 per cent. Rye and millet prices are about two-thirds higher than the previous year’s price projections.

Safflowers are projected to bring labour and management returns of $87 per acre (all figures U.S.) in the northwestern and southwestern regions of the state. Returns per acre average $120 for mustard, $67 for rye, $62 for buckwheat and $24 for millet across several regions. Except for millet, all are competitive with spring wheat, which projects a return to labour and management ranging from $10 to $60 per acre, depending on the region.

NDSU has posted projected crop budgets and a program to compare returns from various crops.

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