Crop survey projects high yields in Fayette County

Some rain in the early spring delayed the planting of corn and soybeans in Fayette County. More rain delayed the planting even more. And yet more rain delayed the planting even more.

And there were some crops that had to be replanted because of later rains.

Yet, Fayette County looks to finish this growing season with some strong corn and soybean yield totals.

In fact, the 2008 yield totals could be even higher than last year, which was deemed by farm officials to be one of Fayette County’s better years.

The yield outlooks are the result of the annual crop survey held by the Fayette County Farm Bureau’s marketing committee.

This year’s survey, performed last Thursday by 28 local farmers, bankers and representatives of agribusinesses, produced an average yield of 149.47 bushels per acre for corn and 40.46 bushels per acre for soybeans.

Those figures compare to the 2007 yield estimates of 141.54 for corn and 35.44 for soybeans.

However, the final totals for this year could be lower than estimated, for a couple of reasons.

One of the main reasons the yields could still be lower than expected is the late planting of both crops.

This year’s corn crop is set, according to Fayette County Farm Bureau Manager Ron Marshel. But, many farmers will see their yield totals drop due to wind damage delivered by a recent storm.

“Certain areas had more (wind) damage than others,” Marshel said. “It appears that fields south of Interstate 70 have more damage than those north of I-70.

“We found some fields that will have yield reductions of up to 20 or 25 percent,” he said.

Many farmers whose corn sustained damage won’t know the extent of that damage until they get in the combine. “What we have seen is that a lot of the damage is in the center of the fields, so you can’t see it unless you get up above the crops or until you get out into the center when you’re harvesting,” Marshel said.

All the corn needs right now, he said, is “just some dry, sunshiny weather, to dry it down.”

As for the soybeans, “we have some at almost every stage,” Marshel said. “There are some beans that are ready or just about ready to harvest, but some that still growing and still need some moisture.

“For a lot of the fields, we just hope that there is no frost for the whole month of October, which is unusual,” he said.

Setting aside the variables that can still affect this year’s yields, one can expect the yield totals for Fayette County to be pretty close, based on the performance of survey teams in the past.

“When you look at this historical averages,” Marshel said, “our people have gotten pretty close (to the final U.S. Department of Agriculture yield figures) ee and in some years, they have been right on.”

In 2000, for example, the survey teams estimated the corn yield average at 125.18 bushels per acre, compared to the USDA figure of 121 bushels per acre. For beans, the survey estimate was 39.49; the USDA figure was 40.

In 2001, the corn average from the survey was 137.95 bushels per acre; the USDA figure was 139. For beans, the survey estimate was 40 bushels per acre, the same as the USDA figure.

“We have that kind of record because the people who do the work for our survey are experienced,” Marshel said.

“We have a calculator that our teams can use to help with the corn yield estimates, but there’s still some need for experience when it comes to figuring the estimates,” he said. “With beans, there is no tool like that that they can use; it all comes down to knowledge and experience,” Marshel said.

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