Saturday, October 27th, 2012
By Nancy Allen
Farmers see good yields for soybeans
Corn crop reported as poor to average
  Farmers are seeing two extremes as they harvest their corn and soybeans this year.
"Pleasantly surprised is the reaction I've seen from most farmers about their soybeans," Vern Schroyer, manager at the Celina Mercer Landmark branch, said. "Corn though ... I think guys are going to get pretty much what they expected."
Farmers are reporting very poor to average yields for corn due to this year's drought. Yields for soybeans, which withstood the drought better and rebounded after late rains, range from average to exceptional.
Soybean yields in Mercer County range from 30 to 60 bushels per acre, and in Auglaize County, they're ranging 60 to 70, Farm Service Agency officials reported. The five-year average for soybeans in Mercer County is 50 bushels per acre, and in Auglaize County, it's 54.
"Soybean yields for the most part is the surprising and happy ending to the dismal drought story, Green said. "Late season rains benefitted soybean production."
Mercer County farmers are reporting corn yields from zero bushels per acre in a very small number of areas to 140. Corn yields in Auglaize County are ranging from 40 to 140 bushels per acre. The five-year average for corn in Mercer County is 160 bushels per acre, and in Auglaize County, it's 161.
"It seems like the later planted corn overall did better because it got some of those later rains," Schroyer said, adding that areas farther north in Van Wert County faired worse than Mercer County.
Farm Service Agency officials from both counties say corn yields have been reduced, but not as much as had been feared. Corn yields varied much more widely than beans.
"Just as some were overly disappointed by their yields there appears to be others equally pleased with the fact that yields exceeded their initial estimate," Anita Green, executive director of the Auglaize County FSA, said. "In the end, everyone will be relieved to have the 2012 fall harvest wrapped up."
Celina area farmer Steve Zumberge said he grew his highest yielding soybeans ever this year; his corn was another story.
"Most of the beans I've gotten are pretty decent from 48 to 68 bushels; the best I've ever done was 60," he said. "My corn is doing 90 to 110 with what I've got off so far; anymore, a good average is probably 180 for corn."
Mercer County FSA Executive Director Chris Gibbs said new seed varieties helped farmers better withstand the drought.
"Twenty years ago you could predict consistent losses, but with the seeds of today, adverse weather events result in wide variability in yields," Gibbs said. "In 1988 (the last major drought), everybody's corn made 60 bushels."
The average corn yield 10 years ago was about 129 bushels per acre, ag statistics show.
Mold that grows on corn ears and sprouting kernels on ears have been reported in small pockets in Mercer County, Gibbs said, adding that reports have become increasingly frequent in the last 10 days as rains have continued.
Isolated incidents of mold also have been reported in corn in Auglaize County.
The wet weather has kept farmers from planting winter wheat, but there's plenty of time to do so. FSA officials urge farmers who are not able to plant wheat to contact their FSA office to report prevented plantings by Nov. 5. Such planting history information could help determine eligibility for future USDA subsidy programs.
"Producers should continue to communicate with their crop insurance company when they are prevented from planting a planned crop," Gibbs said. "Any USDA disaster programs historically use both crop insurance and planting history."
Farm income and commodity prices in recent years have been good and should provide a bit of a cushion if farmers planned ahead, ag officials agreed. Most farmers also take out crop insurance to cover weather-related losses.
"Historically, prices are well above average but have dropped off from what they were just before harvest," said John Leighty, a grain marketer at Trupointe Cooperative in Botkins.
Leighty said bean prices currently are about $15.50, down from a high of $17.50 in mid-September. Corn is at $7.60, down from $8.40.
"The corn crop is more variable this year, but for the most part, it's pretty disappointing," he said. "Bean yields were above expectation."
In Mercer County, 50 to 60 percent of the corn and about 70 percent of the soybeans have been harvested. In Auglaize County, 65 percent of the corn and 85 percent of the soybeans have come off, FSA officials said.
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