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Organic Crop Budgets for 2007 Available from NDSU

The NDSU Extension Service is offering a publication on projected organic crop budgets.

The North Dakota State University Extension Service is offering a publication on projected organic crop budgets for south-central North Dakota. While these budgets are area specific, the information in the publication will be of value to organic producers in other parts of the state, as well as conventional farmers interested in organic production, says an NDSU agricultural economist.

""Prices are higher than the last time these budgets were constructed in 2003,” says Andrew Swenson, Extension Service farm management specialist and co-author of the publication. “However, after talking to many producers and organic grain buyers, it became clear that organic production in North Dakota has not kept pace with the overall growth of the organic industry, which is estimated at 20 percent annually.”

The organic crop budgets included in the publication are for spring wheat, durum, feed barley, corn, oil sunflowers, soybeans, oats, flax, field peas, millet, buckwheat, rye and green manure.

A primary assumption for all the crop budgets is that the marketable yield of organic production will average about 70 percent of conventional crop yields. However, experienced organic growers have achieved yields closer to conventional production. However, new growers and those with less success in managing pests and fertility under an organic system may find it difficult to achieve 70 percent of conventional yields. To meet stringent standards, the cleanout for organic grain typically is greater than for conventional markets. This also is a factor is estimating marketable yields.

Swenson says strong price premiums can be achieved for organic commodities, but the markets are smaller than for conventionally grown crops and price discovery can be difficult. Hauling grain longer distances to market and cleaning grain are important factors for an organic producer when evaluating price and costs. Contracts may specify the grower as responsible for both, either one or none.

The budgets assume the producer delivers the grain to the buyer and the price is for grain after the buyer cleaned or conditioned it.

""Organic producers emphasize the importance of carefully reading all the production contracts they enter into to make sure they understand all the terms, especially those related to cleaning, delivery, quality standards and timing of payment,"" Swenson says.

Also included in the publication are two examples of four-year organic crop rotations. Rotations are the essence of an organic production system, says Brad Brummond, cropping systems agent with the NDSU Extension Service in Walsh County. Brummond, who specializes in organic production methods, is co-author of the publication.

""The principal rule of organic production is to rotate crops to break pest cycles,” Brummond says. “The same crop should never be grown consecutively, nor should crops that have similarly sized seeds be grown back to back if the previous crop is expected to become a ‘weed’ in the subsequent crop.""

The projected 2007 organic crop budgets publication is available on the Web at http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/ecguides.htm. For more information on organic crop rotations and organic management practices, contact Brummond at (701) 284-6624 or mailto:bradley.brummond@ndsu.edu.

In addition, conventional farmers interested in organic production can consult another publication developed by the NDSU Extension Service. ""Organic Farming: Is It For Me?"" (A1181) is available at county offices of the NDSU Extension Service or go to http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/plantsci/crops/a1181w.htm.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Andrew Swenson, (701) 231-7379, andrew.swenson@ndsu.edu
Source:Brad Brummond, (701), 284-6248, bradley.brummond@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu
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