2018 Corn Input Cost Per Bushel Lowest in 10 Years, 2019 to Jump

Corn photos from MI Corn College 2014. ( Aimee Cope )

While commodity prices stay in the dumps, input costs haven’t taken the same nosedive. Corn averaged the same overall costs to a 1% increase at an average of $861 per acre, or $5 higher, according to the University of Illinois. Soybeans increased to $644 per acre in 2018 from $637 per acre in 2017.

FarmDoc Daily economist Gary Schnitkey’s 2019 crop budgets peg corn variable costs to increase 5%—mostly due to fertilizer costs—and soybean variable costs will increase 3%. In 2018, variable costs in soybeans accounted for 33% of total costs. Variable costs accounted for 46% of total corn production costs.

On top of increased costs, farmers are making less money on every food dollar. Farmers made 1.4% less on commodity sales from each dollar spent on food in 2017 at 14.6 cents, compared to 2016 at 14.8 cents, according to USDA.

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Costs were calculated using samples of farmers with more than 500 acres of productive and nearly level soils in each of the four areas of the state. The farms are without livestock.

The biggest variations in cost per bu. of corn by region was due to yield differences. Last year, drying and fertility costs decreased and machinery repairs, fuel, oil and land costs increased. Soybeans also saw yield variability but it was still three to six bu. per acre higher than the five-year average.