Last year was noted for its moisture, and our crops sure look like it. Our last field of red lentils was planted in early June, which was later than it should have been seeded. I don’t know if you noticed it, but it just kept raining and we couldn’t seem to get them in the ground before that.
Despite the lateness and the continuing rain, the yield wasn’t too bad. There was some frost damage, lots of weeds (it was too wet to spray) and some sprouting in the grain sample. The buyers were grading it as a “sample” grade because it had over 10 per cent of dockage. We decided to check around and see if it was worth having them cleaned.
Now, all this cleaning lentils stuff might be normal for you folks who have been growing lentils for decades, but for us this is the first time we’ve had to do any serious cleaning on our lentil crop. Our son Ben called around and the best we could get for it was nine cents a pound for a firm price with a few mumbles of maybe 10 or 12 cents if we held on to them for a while.
Ben took a two-tonne load in to our local seed cleaner (we’re blessed with having a very good seed cleaning plant in town) and — as if by magic — our sample grade lentils became a No. 3 worth 19 cents a pound. One buyer even said he would buy them for as X3 for 20 cents per pound. This seems like a money maker hand over fist, right? Not quite.
HIGHER GRA DE, LOWER VOLUME
Cleaning the crop turned 30 per cent of the volume into screenings. We also had to do all that diddling around hauling it to be cleaned and hauling it home again. We sold some of it, but of course they didn’t want the lentils when they’re on the truck and ready to haul. They had to be shipped a few weeks later, so they all had to be dumped into the bin again.
Was all this cleaning worth it? It seems a no brainer that if you have stuff worth about 10 cents a bushel and clean it, then sell it for 19 cents a bushel you should make money. However at what price was it not worth cleaning the lentils? How much more did I have to make on the lentils to make it worthwhile? I had to do the math to figure it out. Here’s a rough summary of my calculations based on starting with 1,500 bushels (see above table).
At this point my clean lentils have sold for $11,008.58. If I had sold them uncleaned they would have been worth $7,650. Therefore I’ve made $3,358.58 by choosing to put the time in to haul the lentils to the cleaners.
To calculate my breakeven amount I took the $3,358.58 off the total sales of the cleaned lentils ($11,970) which equals $8,611.42. This I divided by the number of pounds sold (1,050 bu x 60 (lb./ bu.) = 63,000 lbs. Dividing this into $8,611.42 = 13.6 cents a bushel.
So if all the numbers above are reasonably accurate then it makes sense to clean the lentils if I can get at least 14 cents a bushel for them. Actually, for all the diddling around I’d probably want to get at least 14-1/2 cents a bushel. Then there’s the chance that the price will go up or down after I’ve cleaned them. If it goes up, that’s OK, but if it goes down, well, that’s too bad for me. However once they are cleaned they will be a more saleable product.
I don’t know if this is a calculation you already know, but this is how I made the decision to clean our lentils. Figuring this out really stretched my little brain so I thought I’d make a little chart of this for future use.
Every instance will be different depending on the quality of the lentils, the cost of cleaning, the percentage cleaned out, the sale price of the end product, the income from screenings and the cost of hauling. That’s a lot of variables. But if it’s any use to you here’s a blank copy of the chart (see sidebar). Copy it or clip it out and use it for your own cleaning adventures, if you’d like.
I hope this helps you in making some of those tough farming decisions. Enjoy the quiet time in the winter and let’s hope we don’t have to worry about cleaning our lentils next year.
GRAIN CLEANING PROJECTION SHEET
1. Sell As Is Without Cleaning: Average Price: ______ Cents/Lb X 60 = $ ______ /Bu Total Sold: ______ Bu Dockage: ______ % X ______ Bu = ______ Bu Net Amount. Sold: ______ Bu – ______ Bu = ______ Bu Total Price: ______ Bu X $ ______ /Bu = $ ______ (A) 2. Clean And Sell: Total To Clean: ______ Bu Cost To Clean: ______ Cents/Bu Total Cleaned Out: ______ % ( ______ Bu) Screenings Price: $ ______ Tonne Net Amount Clean Lentils: ______ Bu – ______ Bu ( ______ %) = ______ Bu (B) Sale Price Of Lentils: ______ Cents/Lb
Profit Gained From Cleaning: Total Net Income From Cleaned Lentils (Line D) Less Total Sales Uncleaned Lentils (Line A) Total Profit From Cleaning Total Sales Of Cleaned Lentils (Line C) Less Profit From Cleaning (Line E) Breakeven Total Breakeven Total (F) Divide By Total Net Cleaned Lentil Sales In Lb ______(B) X 60 = Breakeven Price Per Pound
Total net sales: ______ bu x 60 (lb/bu)
x $ ______ (cents/lb) = $______(C) Cleaning cost: ______ bu x ______ (cents/bu) = -$______ Screenings income: ______ bu/36.744 x $ ______ /T = + $______ Hauling expense to &from cleaner: ( ______ bu inand______buout)______bux______cents/bu= -$______ Total net income: $______(D)
$______ -$______ $______(E) $______ $______ $______(F) $______
1. Sell as-is without cleaning: Average quoted price: 10 cents/lb. =$6/bu. Total sold: 1,500 bu.
Dockage: 15% x 1,500 bu. = 225 bu. Net amt sold: 1,500 –225 = 1,275 bu. Total price: 1,275 x $6 = $7,650
2. Clean and sell: Total to clean: 1,500 bu. Cost to clean: 75 cents/bu. Total cleaned out: 30% (450 bu.) Screenings price: $55/tonne
Net amount clean lentils: 1500 bu. –450 bu. (30%) = 1,050 bu. Sale price of lentils: 19 cents/lb.
Total net sales: 1050 bu. x 60 (lb./bu.) x $0.19 = $11,970 $11,970.00
Cleaning cost: 1,500 bu. x .75 = $1,125
Screenings income: 450 bu./36.744 x $55/T = $673.58 Hauling expense to and from cleaner: (1,500 bu. in and 1,050 bu. out) 2,550 bu. x 20 cents/bu. = $510 Total net income: