The recent trend of small but consistent annual increases in custom rates can be expected in Iowa as well, according to the 2010 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey. Most tillage operations showed increases of 1-2% over the average rates in the 2009 survey, while harvesting rates were up slightly less than that. Some operations showed no change or a slight decrease from the 2009 survey.

A total of 187 Iowa farmers, custom operators and farm managers were surveyed. For each operation, the average rate from the survey and the range are shown. At least 30% of respondents perform custom work, 18% hire work done and 52% indicated doing both.

The values reported on the survey are the average of all responses received for each category. The highest and lowest responses received are also reported. Values are rates expected to be charged or paid, including fuel and labor. The average price for diesel fuel was assumed to be $2.25/gallon.

The rates should only be considered as a guide, according to William Edwards, the Iowa State University extension economist who instigated the survey.There are many reasons why the rate charged in a particular situation should be above or below the average. These include the timeliness with which operations are performed, quality and special features of the machine, operator skill, size and shape of fields, number of acres contracted and the condition of the crop for harvesting. The availability of custom operators in a given area will also affect rates.