Farm commodity prices vary in yearly comparisons

Ray Mueller

MADISON – Average prices received by Wisconsin farmers in March for their commodity crops and livestock were largely unaffected by how this spring's delay in planting due to wet and cold conditions is going to affect production and prices in the coming months.

Several factors are coalescing to suggest that soybeans could prove to be a pivotal crop for many growers this year.

Compared to prices in February of this year and March of 2016, there were both up and down differences across the board. The greatest dollar value and percentage changes within the state were for soybeans and oats.

The average soybean price of $9.75 per bushel for farmer sellers in March was down by 10 cents from February but up by $1.22 per bushel from March of 2016. Similarly, the oats price of $2.43 per bushel was down by 21 cents from February but 81 cents above that in March of 2016.

Corn prices have been relatively steady for Wisconsin's selling farmers during those periods. The March average price of $3.42 per bushel was up by 6 cents from February and down by 1 cent from March of 2016.

Average prices across the United States for those commodities during March were $9.69 per bushel for soybeans, $3.49 for corn, and $2.39 for oats.

Hay Prices Steady

Prices for hay in Wisconsin have shown little movement during the past year but they remain well below averages for the United States.

For all baled hay, Wisconsin's price was $85 per ton for March in both 2017 and 2016 while the February price was $87. Alfalfa hay was at $91 per ton for March while other species of hay averaged $66 per ton.

In comparison, the United States average prices in March were $135 per ton for alfalfa hay and $127 for other hay species. In March of 2016, those prices were $139 and $126 per ton respectively.

Potato growers in Wisconsin continue to enjoy higher prices than the national average. The March average price, including sales for processing, fresh, seed, and livestock feed, was $10.20 per hundredweight compared to $9.13 for the United States.

Wisconsin's price for all potato sales was up by $1.05 per hundredweight from February but down by 60 cents from March of 2016 while the national price was up by 31 cents from February and down by 28 cents from a year ago.

Livestock Sector

Except for replacement dairy cows, cattle prices for March are reported only for the entire country. They rose from February but were still below those for March of 2016.

Prices for calves averaged $161 per hundred for March – up by $10 from February but down by $38 from March of 2016. For beef breed steers and heifers, the per hundred prices were $127 for March, $121 for February, and $137 for March of 2016.

Slaughter market prices for beef and dairy cows averaged $69.50 per hundred for March. That was up from $64.90 for February but down from the $80 for March of 2016.

Replacement dairy cow prices in Wisconsin were reported for April and January of 2017 and April of 2016. Respectively, the averages were $1,710, $1,730, and $1,910 per head.

Hog prices have remained in a narrow range for the past reporting year. For all hogs in the United States, the average prices were $53 per hundred in March, $54.40 in February, and $50 in March of 2016.

Table egg prices calculated in the middle of the months are also included in the report. They were 55.5 cents per dozen for March, 37.3 cents for February, and 73.1 cents for March of 2016.