In 2022, the total of all economic costs per acre for growing corn in Illinois averaged $1,185 in the northern section, $1,192 in the central section for farmland with “high” soil ratings, $1,129 in the central section for farmland with “low” soil ratings, and $1,098 in the southern section. Soybean costs per acre were $839, $859, $793 and $802, respectively (see Table 1). Costs were lower in southern Illinois primarily because of lower land costs. The total of all economic costs per bushel in the different sections of the state ranged from $4.97 to $5.57 for corn and from $11.84 to $13.83 for soybeans. Variations in these costs were related to weather, yields, and land quality.
These figures were obtained from farm business records kept by farmers enrolled in the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management Association. The samples included only farms with more than 500 acres of productive and nearly level soils in each area of the state; these are farms without livestock. Farms located in the 22 counties north and northwest of the Illinois River are included in the sample for northern Illinois. Farms from 36 counties below a line from about Mattoon to Alton are in the sample for southern Illinois. The remaining 44 counties make up the sample for central Illinois. The sample farms averaged 1,794 tillable acres in northern Illinois, 1,563 acres in the central section with high soil ratings, 1,555 acres in the central section with lower soil ratings, and 1,697 acres in southern Illinois.
Cost of Production for Corn Compared to 2021
Costs per bushel of corn in 2022 as compared to 2021 were higher in all regions of the state. Costs per bushel were increased even with higher yields due to greater fertility, pesticides, non-land, land and overhead costs as well as machinery repairs, fuel and machine hire costs. Costs per bushel were 65 cents higher in northern Illinois, 73 cents higher in central Illinois with the higher rated soils, 55 cents higher in central Illinois with the lower rated soils and $1.38 higher in southern Illinois.
The average corn yield in 2022 was 19 bushels per acre higher than 2021 in northern Illinois, 14 bushels to 22 bushel higher in central Illinois and 12 bushels lower than 2021 in southern Illinois. The 2022 average corn yield in the different geographical locations ranged from 7 bushels higher to 21 bushels per acre higher than the five-year average from 2018 to 2022.
Costs per acre for corn were higher in all the different geographic regions in Illinois compared to 2021. Across the state, total costs per acre to produce corn increased from 24 to 25 percent. Fertility costs increased the most statewide.
Cost of Production for Soybeans Compared to 2020
Production costs per bushel of soybeans in 2022 in Illinois compared to 2021 increased across the state. Costs per bushel increased due to yields staying similar to 2021, but with the same cost increasing as for corn. Soybean yields ranged from 6 bushel lower to 2 bushels per acre higher in 2022 compared to 2021. Changes in costs per bushel ranged from $1.67 higher in central Illinois with lower soil ratings to $3.40 higher in southern Illinois.
Total costs per acre for soybeans increased in Illinois when compared to 2021. Costs increased $133 per acre in northern Illinois, $142 per acre in central Illinois with the higher rated soils, $132 per acre in central Illinois with the lower rated soils and $134 per acre in southern Illinois when compared to 2021. Average soybean yields in the different areas ranged from 1 bushel lower to 4 bushel higher per acre when comparing to the five-year average from 2018 to 2022.
Total costs to produce corn for all combined areas of the state were $1,165 per acre. This is $228 per acre higher than 2021. Variable costs increased $155 per acre or 35 percent, other nonland costs increased $40 per acre, and land costs increased $33 per acre. In 2022, cash costs accounted for 51 percent of the total cost of production for corn, other nonland costs were 25 percent, and land costs were 24 percent. The average corn yield for all combined areas of the state was 227 bushels per acre resulting in a total cost of production of $5.13 per bushel. The average corn yield in 2022 was the highest on record and 14 bushels to the acre more than 2021. Total costs per acre were the highest on record while total costs per bushel were the second highest on record with 2012 being the highest.
Total cost per acre to produce soybeans increased, from $695 per acre in 2021 to $833 per acre in 2022. Variable cash costs accounted for 36 percent of the total cost of production for soybeans, other nonland costs 31 percent and land costs 33 percent. The average soybean yield for all combined areas of the state was 67 bushels per acre resulting in a total cost of production of $12.43 per bushel. The cost per bushel to raise soybeans the last five years averaged $10.64 per bushel.
Forecasts for Illinois production costs in 2023 look to increase using Dr. Gary Schnitkey’s 2023 crop budgets and the USDA’s Cost-of-Production Forecasts as a guide. For corn, 2023 variable costs are projected to increase 6 percent, mainly due to soil fertility, seed, and machinery cost increases. However, this increase could be affected depending on when fertilizer was purchased. For 2023, soybeans have a larger projected percentage increase of variable costs of 14 percent. This increase is also primarily due to soil fertility, seed, and machinery costs. These increases coupled with higher overhead and land costs have the possibility to lead to much lower returns due to currently lower projected grain prices for 2023.
The author would like to acknowledge that data used in this study comes from Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) Associations across the state. Without their cooperation, information as comprehensive and accurate as this would not be available for educational purposes. FBFM, which consists of 5,000 plus farmers and 65 plus professional field staff, is a not-for-profit organization available to all farm operators in Illinois. FBFM field staff provide on-farm counsel with recordkeeping, farm financial management, business entity planning and income tax management. For more information, please contact the State FBFM Office located at the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at 217-333-8346 or visit the FBFM website at www.fbfm.org.
A more complete discussion of how some of the costs are calculated can be found under Illinois Farm Management Handbook in the management section of farmdoc: https://farmdoc.illinois.edu/handbook/cost-to-produce-corn-and-soybeans-in-illinois
Schnitkey, G. and K. Swanson. “Illinois Crop Budgets, 2023.” Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, December 2022.
USDA. “Cost-of-Production Forecasts for U.S. Major Field Crops, 2022F-2023F.” https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/DataFiles/47913/cop_forecast.xlsx?v=6558
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