The progress of soybeans and corn in the area is about two weeks behind 2018, said Jeff Arnold of Trico Ag Service in Hancock and Brian Orth of the Morris Co-op Agronomy Center.
How good yields are this fall depends on where those fields are located.
“It’s really variable,” Arnold said.
While yields can vary each year depending on rain and other factors, the differences may be more widespread this year, Arnold said.
“It’s really showing up this year,” Arnold said of variables.
Rain or lack of rain, timing of rain, field conditions, tiled field or untilled fields all influence a crop’s yields.
A corn or soybean crop may look good from the road but that view won’t always represent the entire field.
“You still have low spots, drowned out spots,” Orth said. “Places where you didn’t get good emergence, areas where maybe there was nutrient deficiencies.”
On average, as of Aug. 15, Arnold said he expects 25 bushels per acre less of corn than last year and 10 bushels per acre fewer of soybeans than last year.
The USDA’s most recent crop report released on Aug. 12 said more acres of corn were planted than previously believed and increased the expected corn yield by 3.5 bushels.
The Aug. 12 report caused corn prices to drop. Soybean prices also decreased but have rebounded some as of Aug. 15.
“After the last USDA report for corn, prices took a kicking,” Arnold said. “I think it went down 65 cents (the same day).”
Farmers need higher per bushel prices, Orth and Arnold said.
“There is a lot of money tied up in this,” Orth said. “When you have low prices and low yields, that’s not good for anybody. If the rural part of our economy is suffering, the (whole) local economy suffers.”
Farmers had already fine-tuned their operation budget before spring planting started, Arnold and Orth said.
Farmers spent less money on fertilizer and input costs to reduce the operating budget, they said.
When farmers couldn’t plant that also reduced the amount of fertilizer they needed, Arnold said.
Fewer crops planted means less fertilizer, less that the elevator takes in at harvest, less corn dried, less chemicals used and less trucking, Arnold said, which are all negative impacts on the economy.
The hopeful side is that markets can rebound and prices will increase for corn and soybeans, Orth and Arnold said.