Friday, September 6th, 2013
By Eric Adams
Expert: Yields will best estimates
Marketer tells group imported corn becoming more prevalent
  CELINA - Late plantings and dry soil have contributed to low national yield estimates of corn and soybean crops this year, according to John Leighty, a grain marketer at Trupointe Cooperative in Botkins.
The USDA-released figures factor in what he called "volatility" in the markets.
"That's why we see up 40 (points) one day, down 60 the next, that sort of thing," he said Thursday morning at the monthly Mercer County Agriculture Breakfast.
Leighty, who has studied crop development for more than 30 years, felt the national estimate of 154 corn bushels per acre was conservative.
Two weeks ago, Leighty returned from the "Pro Farm Midwest Crop Tour," a 2,000-mile trip through agricultural regions in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
On the trip he encountered unplanted fields in northern regions of Iowa, a trend which was more prevalent when he reached Minnesota. Still, he was encouraged by the crop's relative success despite unfavorable conditions.
"We saw a crop that was thirsty, (but) it's August; most years it's dry in August," he said. "(Corn) we saw across the country was denting and pretty well filled out."
Denting - the process by which grooves form on the side of corn kernels - is a sign of maturation.
Leighty gathered numbers from various fields to estimate how many bushels would be harvested per acre. In southern Mercer County, his team logged a figure of 206 at one farm. In Van Wert County, a field indicated a yield of 139.
"Van Wert County (average yield) is a lot better than 139," he said. "If you put all these numbers together, you'll come up with something that's close to being (accurate)."
Leighty also noted the importation of corn grown in Argentina, a practice that has become especially prevalent in coastal areas of the country but has been observed in the grain belt as well.   
Corn outsourcing from other countries, an unprecedented practice, resulted from a recent spike in domestic prices, he said.
"Cargill and Bunge ... they have no patriotic duty to use just U.S. corn; they're out there to make money," he said. "If they can source corn from Argentina and get it to Fort Recovery cheaper than what it sells there, they're gonna do it."
Additionally, imported corn often does not contain certain ailments like Vomitoxin that are found in domestically-produced crops.
In coastal areas, the result is a growing preference of the imported crop.
"They've developed an appetite for this Argentina corn," he said. "The feeding conversion is better ... in the future, (even if) we have good corn available, they may not buy it."
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