Custom forage harvesting rates rose slightly across the country from 2009 to 2010.Here’s a rundown of what several states are reporting for average baling and silage harvest rates, assuming fuel prices ranging from $2.25 to $2.73/gallon.The table below lists mowing, mowing-conditioning, raking, tedding and windrowing rates.

Editor’s Note:The following prices come from custom operators, farmers and farm managers surveyed by land-grant universities or the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).Some figures may not jibe with others, due in part to the number and type of respondents – producers who may be charging low rates for neighbors vs. full-time custom harvesters.


Iowa: Small square bale average rates were 50¢/bale, large round and square bales, $9.80/bale, according to the Iowa State University custom rate survey for 2010. Large round plastic-wrapped bales averaged $11/bale. Rates for straw or cornstalks baled as large rounds or squares averaged $11.40 per unwrapped bale and $12.25 per plastic-wrapped bale.

Chopping charges for haylage were $10.65/hour/foot of head width; for earlage, $38.75/acre; and for corn silage, $30.40/hour/row. Corn silage chopping, hauling and filling upright silo rates averaged $34.80/hour/row. The diesel fuel average price assumed was $2.25/gallon.

Nebraska: The University of Nebraska Extension’s 2010 state average rates included a fuel price of $2.50/gallon. Per-bale baling rates for small squares with twine and wire tie, respectively, were 63¢ and 72¢; for large squares, $13.09; large rounds without net wrap, $10.81; and with net wrap, $11.69. Cornstalk round bale rates averaged $13.08/bale.

Although operators reported haylage and corn silage charges of $320/hour to chop, haul, fill and pack silos, per-ton prices were $8.30 for haylage and $7.29 for corn silage. Chopping-only rates were $5.17/ton for alfalfa silage and $4.85/ton for corn silage. Haylage chopped and hauled by wagons and trucks cost $6.53/ton; corn silage rates for the same services averaged $7.14/ton.

Ohio: Per-bale rates for small squares dropped in the field averaged 65¢; loaded in wagons, 80¢; and baled, loaded, hauled and stored, $1.70, according to Ohio State University Extension’s 2010 report, which utilized a $2.50/gallon fuel price in determining rates.

Large rounds at 1,500 lbs each were priced at $10.60/bale left in the field and $11.40/bale net-wrapped. Baling and wrapping wet bales averaged $16.10/bale. Thousand-pound round bales left in the field brought $6.80 each; net-wrapped bales, $7.70/bale. Large squares left in fields averaged $9.40/bale.

Haylage chopping rates averaged $6.65/ton; corn silage, $5.30/ton. Per-ton costs to fill silage bags: $4.65.

Wisconsin: Square bales weighing 600+ lbs averaged $8.15/bale, according to the 2010 Wisconsin custom rates report from NASS. Bales at 25-50 lbs averaged 60¢/bale; those at 300-600 lbs, $6.95/bale. Round bales at less than 1,000 lbs brought per-bale rates of around $7.40; round bales of 1,000 lbs or more averaged $9.05/bale.

Baling and wrapping square bales 600 lbs and over cost $12.90/bale, on average. Baling and wrapping round bales under 1,000 lbs averaged $8.40/bale while those over that weight priced out at $11/bale.

Baling and line-wrapping 600+-lb square bales cost $10.40/bale. Line-wrapped round bales under 1,000 lbs were $10.50/bale and, at 1,000 lbs or more, $13.20/bale.

Haylage chopped by a pull-type harvester averaged $28.60/acre or $109/hour; that chopped by self-propelled models brought $28.10/acre or $293/hour. Haylage chopped with a self-propelled machine, hauled and packed in a bunker, averaged a $49.80/acre rate or $557/hour. To chop haylage, haul it to and fill an upright silo using a pull-type chopper, it cost $126/hour; using a self-propelled model, $381/hour.

Corn silage chopped with a pull-type harvester with processor could get $41.20/acre, or $130/hour; without a processor, $45.40/acre or $108/hour. Self-propelled chopping with processing averaged $55.90/acre or $299/hour; without processing, $290/hour.

To chop, haul and pack corn silage in bunkers, a self-propelled chopper with a processor averaged $620/hour. To chop, haul and fill upright silos, self-propelled chopper owners charged an average of $508/hour with processing.


Kentucky: Custom rates were just being updated at presstime. The following are from a draft 2011 estimate compiled by the University of Kentucky, using surveyed rates from other states and incorporating a $3.50/gallon fuel price. Average small square per-bale rate estimates are 65¢ for hay baling in general, 90¢ to bale and load in wagon, 70¢ to haul and store (no baling). The cost to haul a load over 20 miles is projected at $3.25/mile.

Complete hay harvest rates to cut, rake and bale small squares average $1.40/bale. To also haul and store bales, the rate increases to $1.90/bale.

Baling large squares at 600-800 lbs averages $9/bale; bales over 1,000 lbs, $11.50/bale; and bales at 2,000 lbs, $14.50/bale.

Large round hay bale projected rates range from $9 to $12.50/bale for 875-lb, 1,200-lb and 1,500-lb bales baled only or baled with net wrap. Round bales of straw or cornstalks average $11/bale. Cut, raked and baled round hay bales are estimated to average $16.50/bale at 875 lbs, $18 at 1,200 lbs and $22.50 at 1,500 lbs and up.

Corn silage chopping rates are estimated at $60.50/acre, $5.50/ton or $34/hour/row. To chop, haul and fill silo, rates average $39/hour/row or $8/ton. To chop, haul and fill bunkers, charges are $9.50/ton. Chopping and hauling average charges are $7.50/ton.

Oklahoma: Baling-only charges averaged $1.17 per small square bale; cutting to stacking those bales, $3.92/bale, according to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service’s 2009-2010 custom rates survey.

Baling large square 4 x 4’ bales brought an average price of $14.64/bale. Large round 800- to 1,500-lb bales averaged $13.84/bale; Cutting, raking and baling large round bales brought an average $18.89/bale charge. Giant round bales ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 lbs, baled only, averaged $13.79/bale.


Pennsylvania: The NASS 2009-2010 rates report included average small square baling costs of 82¢/bale. The rate to cut, rake, bale and store small squares was $1.75/bale. Baling large round 860-lb bales was priced at $7.10/bale; large squares averaging 837 lbs each were priced at $8/bale and wrapping bales, $6.90/bale.

Silage-chopping rates were $80.10/hour using pull-type harvesters; $188/hour using self-propelled choppers less than 365 hp; and $260/hour using 365+-hp self-propelled choppers.


Utah: Per-bale charges of 91¢ for small squares, $9.80 for medium squares, $12.95 for 3 x 4’ large squares, $15.31 for 4 x 4’ large squares and $8.50 for large rounds from 800 to 1,500 lbs were reported in the Utah State University custom rates survey gathered the fall of 2009.

Haylage chopping charges averaged $5/ton, while chopping, hauling and packing the crop totaled $20.88/ton.

Corn silage costs averaged $7/ton for chopping and $9.20/ton for chopping, hauling and packing services. Few responses were gathered in this area.

Custom Rates Surveys Online

Iowa 2010 –
Kansas 2009 –
Kansas 2010-2011 –
Kentucky 2010 –
Kentucky 2011 –
Missouri 2009 –
Nebraska 2010 –
North Dakota 2010 –
Ohio 2010 –
Oklahoma 2009-2010 –
Utah 2009-2010 –
Wisconsin 2010 –