2023 Nebraska Crop Production Budgets — Higher Costs and Risks

2023 Nebraska Crop Production Budgets — Higher Costs and Risks
Extension Educator and Farm and Ranch Management Analyst
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Upcoming Webinar: 2023 Nebraska Crop Budgets: Estimating Costs, Margins, Yield & Price Breakeven

Thursday, Dec. 1, noon CT

Newly published 2023 Nebraska Crop Budgets will be presented, along with a discussion of their potential uses and how producers and farm managers can create enterprise budgets using the UNL budgets as a guide. We’ll view estimated cash and economic costs, potential margins, along with yield and price breakeven figures and additional enterprise budget uses.


The 1Nebraska crop budgets were recently updated for 2023. All of the 84 budgets indicate cost of production increases. Estimated average economic or total costs per bushel for 2023 corn production are expected to be at least 23% to 25% greater than last year. Soybeans are estimated to be 13% to 19% more in economic costs per bushel, with wheat production costs having jumped over 20% compared to last year and running as high as 63% higher over the last two years combined. Cost scenarios for individual producers can vary based on their timing of input purchases and price variabilities.

Fuel, fertilizer, and field operation costs are the main drivers of projected production cost increases in the 2023 enterprise budgets. Ownership costs of land and rental rates are factors adding to cost increases as well, with the all-land2 average value in Nebraska rising 16% for the year ending February 1, 2022.

Along with increased costs come increased financial risk exposure associated with yield or market changes. It is important to develop cost of production baseline information to utilize market opportunities as they are available, consider input decisions, and make timely risk management decisions. Knowing projected enterprise costs can provide confidence in decision making. A recent Center for Agricultural Profitability 3article outlines 11 key management decisions made easier with analysis of enterprise budgets created with the UNL Agricultural Budget Calculator (ABC).

Nebraska Extension crop specialists and economists annually prepare the University of Nebraska crop budgets. Additional crops in the 2023 budget reports include: alfalfa, dry edible beans, grain sorghum, grass hay, millet, peas, oats, sugar beets, and sunflowers. The budget reports are provided in several formats, including cash and economic budget reports from the ABC program. Producers and agricultural managers can use the ABC program to create their own crop enterprise budgets or modify the existing Nebraska budgets, downloadable in ABC. Excel and printable PDF report versions are available as well.

The Nebraska budgets are created using assumptions thought to be valid for many producers across the state, however, each farming operation is unique, and producers should take the time to examine individual budgets and modify them as needed before using them for decision making purposes.

Production Cost Jumps since 2021

Table 1 provides a comparison of each Nebraska corn budget from 2021 to 2023, providing cost projections per bushel on a cash and economic basis. For dryland corn, assuming a 150-bushel yield average, cash costs increased $1.08 per bushel and economic costs increased $1.49 per bushel over the two-year period. For irrigated corn budgets, using a 239-bushel average yield, 2023 cash costs are projected to increase by $1.10 over 2021 with a $0.55 per bushel increase from 2022 to 2023. Total or economic costs per bushel for irrigated corn jumped 18% from 2021 to 2022 and another 25% for 2023.

Table 2 provides a similar comparison with 2021-2023 cost of production figures on soybeans. Here we note a $2.84 per bushel average increase in irrigated soybean economic costs, and over a $1.00 increase in dryland and irrigated soybeans costs per bushel for both 2022 and for 2023 budgets. On average, total economic costs are estimated at $10.54 per bushel for dryland soybeans and $10.57 per bushel for irrigated soybeans.

Table 3 shows the largest percentage cost per bushel increases from 2021 to 2023 on both a cash and economic basis were for dryland and irrigated wheat enterprises in Nebraska, pushing average per bushel total costs estimates to $6.50 and $6.85, respectively.

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>table 2 graphic.

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The 2023 Nebraska budgets are based on a projected yield to calculate both a total economic and a cash cost per unit of production. Cash costs do not include the ownership cost of machinery and equipment used in field operations, nor a real estate opportunity cost when land is owned. Conversely, economic costs include an opportunity cost of land and equipment, plus depreciation costs of machinery and equipment.

Land values from the 2022 Nebraska Farm Real Estate Report are used in the budgets to calculate land ownership opportunity costs. If an operator rents crop ground, land value and real estate taxes can be eliminated in the budget and replaced by the amount paid for cash rent. In this scenario, cash costs will increase due to the added cash rent expenses.

In addition to depreciation and ownership costs of machinery and equipment, field operation costs include labor, fuel, and repair expenses. Repairs and depreciation expenses are figured using the Society of Agricultural Engineers formulas and equations for power units and implements. The 2023 labor rate remained the same as last year’s figure of $25 per hour. Labor costs for each operation are calculated using machinery accomplishment rates and are adjusted for the additional time required for getting machinery ready, adjusting machinery, and handling fertilizer and crop inputs.

Budgets Should be Modified Based on Operations and Input Price Changes

Prices for materials and services for the 2023 crop budgets were based on August to October 2022 prices. As observed a year ago, input prices were rising sharply in many cases soon after the budgets were published. For 2023, we cannot accurately predict the movement of material and service prices, therefore, it is highly recommended that producers utilize the Nebraska budgets as a guide to prepare their own enterprise budgets, updating expense figures as necessary.

In the 2023 crop budgets, fertilizer costs are figured generally at $1.00 per pound of nitrogen. Diesel fuel was assumed at $3.83 per gallon for 2023, with 15% of the fuel cost added to the budget for oil and lube costs. Pesticide prices over the last year varied, with some increasing slightly and others staying the same or lower. A complete list of material input prices is shown in the budget reports (“Material Inputs” tab of the ABC program or pages 8-10 of the PDF report).


1Klein, R., McClure, G., 2022 Nebraska Crop Budgets, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, cap.unl.edu/cropbudgets

2 Jansen, J., Stokes, J., Nebraska Farm Real Estate Report 2022 Final Results.  University of Nebraska – Lincoln, cap.unl.edu/realestate

3 Van Tassell, L., McClure, G., Parsons, J., “11 Key Management Decisions Made Easier Using the Agricultural Budget Calculator (ABC).” CAP Series 22-1002, Center for Agricultural Profitability, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, October 25, 2022.

2023 Crop Budget Reports Available from the Agricultural Budget Calculator

The free online Ag Budget Calculator (ABC) allows ag producers and managers access to create their own budgets or download the UNL crop budgets in the program that fit most closely with their cropping practices. The program allows users to make modifications to the UNL budgets found in ABC or start from scratch and make their own budgets. 

The ABC Program features include:

  • Cash and Economic Budget Reports with per acre and per unit cost information
  • Net Return projections
  • Field Operation cost reports
  • Material and Services cost reports
  • Projected Revenue section with estimated net returns reported
  • Whole Farm component to reconcile direct and overhead expenses along with the ability to combine enterprises into budget reports
  • Analysis section with breakeven, sensitivity, crop comparison, and a risk module with calculations to view disaster scenarios with crop insurance options
  • NEW - Cash flow planning module in the whole farm section

Plans are to continue to enhance the program with more analysis features and the addition of the livestock production cost module in 2023.

The cap.unl.edu/abc website provides more information and includes the link to access the free program and create a user account or you can go directly to agbudget.unl.edu to begin using the program.