On the surface, the yield estimates generated through last week’s crop survey look decent when compared to figures from recent years.
But those yield estimates don’t really give an accurate assessment of this year’s corn and soybean crops in Fayette County.
The survey, held by the Fayette County Farm Bureau’s marketing committee, produced average yields of 149.97 for corn and 33.54 for soybeans.
With 27 farmers, agribusiness representatives and bankers breaking up into seven teams, the coverage of Fayette County was thorough.
This year’s corn estimate is slightly higher than the average derived last year, 149.47, and the soybeans estimate is below last year’s figure of 40.46. The 2007 survey numbers were 141.54 for corn and 35.44 for beans.
But to get a more-accurate picture of this year’s anticipated yields, one needs to look deeper into the teams’ reports.
The samples generated from the teams ranged from 69-200 bushels per acre for corn and 12-46 bushels per acre for beans.
Those numbers do reflect the range of yields for each crop. “It’s really spotty, from field to field, and even in different spots in the same field,” said Farm Bureau Manager Ron Marshel. “This year, you can find fields that may have a yield of 200 bushels (per acre) in one spot and 120 bushels in another.
But, there is a greater range in yields overall this year due to planting and growing problems.
“We know that there are some extremely good crops, but on the flip side, there are some crops that aren’t so good, due to the lateness of planting and everything else that went against us,” Marshel said.
“You may find a field that was planted during the regular time frame and it looks good,” he said. “You can drive down the road a couple of miles and see a field that was planted later, and you can tell that it was planted later.”
The corn figures also don’t reflect the fact that there will be a lot less corn harvested this year. Wet weather delayed corn planting to the extent that some fields were planted considerably later than normal, others were switched from corn to beans and others didn’t get planted at all.
“I know that when we did the crop survey in Bond County, we came across several thousand acres that didn’t get planted,” Marshel said.
Those fields in which farmers designated for soybeans also got planted later than normal, which means that their growing season has been pushed back considerably.
“The corn is done (growing),” Marshel said. “It’s in the dry down mode.
“If we had some warmer weather, it could help the soybeans,” he said. “But the days are getting shorter and the days are getting cooler.”
Farmers with soybeans that need more growing time are keeping their eyes on the weather, hoping that frost doesn’t destroy those beans already hampered by the unfavorable weather.
“Our eyes are on the northern parts of the corn belt,” Marshel said, noting that on Tuesday there was a frost warning for that part of the country.
“A big problem this year is that it was somewhat cooler this summer, and the heating degree days didn’t kick in,” Marshel said.
On top of that, while the cooler, wetter weather had an adverse affect on the crops, it provided better growing conditions for disease and weeds.
“With this kind of weather, there’s more fungus and rot, and we are seeing some disease in corn.
One major disease, diplodia, is prevalent this year, he said. “That corn is not unsellable, but it takes more to make a bushel and the protein is not there.”
“They are really thriving,” Marshel said about the weed problem. “The chemicals used are for weeds that are maybe 18 inches tall, and we’ve got some fields with weeds that are 5 feet tall.”
That means that farmers will have to spray more chemicals or return to the old-fashioned method of walking the fields and manually getting rid of the weeds.
The conditions that delayed the planting of corn and soybeans will also have an affect on the next wheat crop.
“There are so many farmers who plant wheat after soybeans, and the beans are still out there in the field,” Marshel said, explaining that the first week of October is usually when a lot of wheat is planted.