Winter Wheat Crop Budgets Available for 7 Systems

Winter Wheat Crop Budgets Available for 7 Systems

As you turn to the next season of wheat production, Nebraska Extension crop budgets can be a valuable tool to identify and compare costs and help inform decisions. Growers also may want to consider wheat’s longer term value in crop rotations, such as pest management or forage production.

The seven 2019 Nebraska Crop Budgets for winter wheat estimate total economic cost of production in a range of $4.06 to $5.78 per bushel (Table 1). Nebraska Farm Business, Inc. reported in their 2018 average farm financial data summary that direct production costs for wheat from the five farms reporting ranged from $5.60/bu to $6.62/bu when allocated expenses were included.

Table 1. 2019 Nebraska Winter Wheat Production Budgets
(Source: 2019 Nebraska Crop Production Budgets)
Budget No.SystemYield Est.Economic Cost /buCash Cost /bu
70 Dryland No-till Wheat after Row Crop 55 $4.49 $2.95
71 Dryland No-till, Fallow, 1 crop in 2 years 65 $5.14 $3.18
72 Dryland Stubble Much Fallow, 1 crop in 2 years 60 $5.45 $3.12
73 Dryland, Conv. Till, 1 crop in 2 years 55 $5.78 $3.30
74 Dryland, No-till Wheat before Corn, 2 crops in 3 years 75 $4.49 $2.94
Dryland Average 62 $5.07 $3.10
75 Wheat No-till after Dry Beans 100 $4.06 $2.81
76 Wheat No-till, in Rotation 85 $5.10 $3.60
Irrigated Average 92.5 $4.58 $3.21

All 78 UNL crop budgets for 2019 are available in CropWatch at Each budget is available as a printable PDF file or an Excel that can be downloaded and modified.

Producers should review the seven winter wheat budgets (Budgets 70-76) to determine which budget most closely reflects their winter wheat production system. The title of each budget describes the cropping system. Five of the wheat budgets are for dryland/rainfed fields while two are for irrigated fields.

Each budget should be examined to determine if the operations, materials, and services listed with cost estimates, land values, and yield represent the wheat enterprise to determine cost of production for an individual wheat enterprise. The Excel file can be edited to include an individual producer’s budget data.

In some budgets, a few materials and services may be shown as not applied to 100% of the acres. For example in wheat budget 74, Quilt Xcel fungicide is noted as applied on 25% of the acres. A fungicide application of this type may only be needed one out of four years (25% of the time), or in a given year only a portion of the acres may need to be treated with the product. This can easily be modified for individual wheat production budgets for any given year.

The UNL crop budgets and production costs noted in the latest Nebraska Farm Business Report do not account for the other economic benefits of including winter wheat in cropping systems. For example, in areas with limited precipitation, an average of 3 inches of soil water is accumulated after winter wheat harvest, which has been shown to benefit next year’s corn or sorghum crop by increasing yield approximately 35 bushel per acre (Wicks, 1977).

Other benefits of winter wheat production include controlling or reducing pest problems. With livestock operations, forages are a possibility in some areas. Winter wheat helps maintain soil organic matter. Two to two-and-one-half tons of crop residue is needed to maintain soil organic matter. Wheat has 100 pounds of crop residue per bushel compared to corn and grain sorghum which provide approximately 50 pounds of crop residue per bushel (Fenster, et al, 1977). Cover crops have been shown to provide similar benefits, however in areas with limited precipitation, soil water usage must be considered. 

For assistance in using or customizing the budgets to your operation, contact Robert Klein, extension western Nebraska crops specialist, or 308-697-6705, or Glennis McClure, extension educator in Agricultural Economics, or 402-472-0661.

With support from the Nebraska Soybean Board, a new Ag Budget Calculator program is under development. This online program will provide crop producers a new means to directly figure their cost of production per enterprise. Watch for more details as the new system becomes available for testing and use by individual producers.


Fenster, C.R., R.H. Follett and E.J. Williamson, Best Use of Crop Residues, Soils Magazine, American Society of Agronomy, 1978.

Wicks, Gail A., Winter Wheat-Ecofallow Corn or Sorghum Rotation, University of Nebraska Ecofallow Conference Proceedings, 1977.

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