A new year brings new crops and a fresh start, but Marion County extension agent Ricky Roberts predicts 2017 won’t be any easier than last year.
“I just don’t know what the future is going to hold,” Roberts said. “I don’t know for prices, yields, anything, but what I have of the information at my ends today suggests to me that the farm economy is still going to be difficult.”
Above average rainfall led to increased yields last year, and a wet 2017 could help farmers survive low prices.
“But if prices stay depressed, or crops return to more normal yields, then it’s going to be more difficult to make money,” Roberts said.
Cooperative Grain and Supply grain coordinator Dick Tippin said that around 15 to 20 percent less wheat acres were planted for this year.
“Unless there is crop failure somewhere around the world, a drought, or something, it’s going to be difficult,” Tippin said. “It’ll probably be a smaller harvest due to less acres, but with all the wheat out there, it probably won’t make much difference on the price.”
Some farmers may change what they grow.
Tippin said that some may switch to soybeans due to their profitable price at $9.12 a bushel compared to $3.50 for a bushel of wheat.
“Generally you don’t get as big a yield on beans as you would on wheat,” Tippin said. “There’s potential there.”
Roberts said that while wheat acres are down, planting beans and corn could make up for it.
“I guess all those acres will be put back into beans, because on paper, beans look more profitable,” Roberts said.
Tippin said harvests in South America could affect outcomes for Kansas crops.
“Those compete with our exports out of the U.S.,” Tippin said, “so that’s going to have some effect on our corn and bean harvests.”
Though Roberts and Tippin anticipate a tough year, nothing is ever certain until crops start coming in.
“We are still a ways away from harvest, so things change,” Tippin said. “You don’t know for sure.”