Now that the 2015 South Texas harvest is in the books, farmers have begun to focus on what to plant in 2016. With prices where they are, just penciling out a profitable crop mix to plant for next year is challenging. However, Economists with AgriLife Extension have developed a crop analyzer tool that producers can use to analyze their options and packaging loan renewal requests for 2016. The tool may also be beneficial in evaluating lease agreements.

The Excel spreadsheet tool is designed to allow individual producers to input their own production inputs and cost. Producers can compare estimated returns from various crops and do “what if” analyses by changing prices, yields, or production inputs. The tool can be downloaded online for free at: http://bit.ly/AgriLifeCropAnalyzer.

There is a version of the tool available for several of the crop producing regions of the state. The Coastal Bend version was adapted from the original version to meet our region’s needs. Each tool includes budget templates for irrigated and non-irrigated corn, grain sorghum, cotton, wheat, and sesame produced in the respective regions. Non-specified irrigated and non-irrigated budgets labeled “other crop” are also available for developing other budgets. Each budget template has detailed line items for income, variable costs and fixed costs to allow flexibility for the farmer to develop specific crop budgets to fit their individual operation and needs. Producers input their own prices, yields, production/overhead costs, and rental (cash or crop-share) arrangement information. The tool allows a farmer to change these input variables and essentially do “what-if” analysis to better determine what crop mix might generate the best returns.

To assist the analysis and decision process, a Break-Even Comparison section or tab provides the producer a comparison of break-even prices to cover variable and total cost under various yield scenarios. A Comparative Return tab provides a reference and comparison of costs and returns for all selected crops. The Crop Analysis section offers the opportunity to evaluate what crop mix is optimal based on available water, water requirements by crop, unit acreage, and return over variable costs. The optimal combination among all crops, irrigated and non-irrigated, is highlighted.

The Coastal Bend and South Texas decision tools were adapted by Dr. Levi Russel and Mac Young, Extension Economists, in Corpus Christi.

On the production side, the Coastal Bend Soil Testing Campaign began on Oct. 1 and will run through Nov. 20 to help row crop farmers and ranchers with improved pastures prepare for next year’s growing season. This is another resource growers can take advantage of to put themselves in the best position to take advantage of every bit of their land’s value. With the downward trend of cotton and feed grain market prices, soil testing can prove to be a critical tool in managing input costs for next year’s crop.

For more information, contact the local AgriLife Extension county office at 361-767-5223, email j-ott@tamu.edu. Also, please make plans to join us for Coastal Bend Fall CEU Conference on October 29th.

Individuals with disabilities, who require an auxiliary aid, service or accommodation in order to participate in any of the mentioned activities, are encouraged to contact the County Extension Office eight days before all programs for assistance. Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.