August 26, 2014
The USDA estimates a huge corn crop coming at us this fall, both in Indiana and across the Corn Belt. In summers that are on the cool and wet side, estimates made by USDA tend to go up from August through the final estimate. That's based on conclusions of Jim Newman, ag climatologist, retired, who studied those trends over a long time period.
As big as the crop estimate was, it wasn't quite as large as some private forecasters were predicting before the report. A few hiccups on the path to staggering yields may account for the slightly less than expected yield number.
Corn Illustrated 8/19: Big Yield Forecasts No Surprise But Water Damage Still A Concern
Wet holes hurt: A wet hole with reduced or no yield can drag down average yield for the whole field significantly, even if the wet portion only equals 5% of the field (see example.)
Here are a few possible reasons why. However, overall all indications are that there will still be a huge corn crop this fall.
• Dry spots! It's nothing like the drought of 2012, but some dry areas are beginning to appear. One of those is in north-central Indiana, where yields are typically very high due to very productive, dark soils. One observer located there says it is extremely dry there. It's also dry in parts of northeast Indiana, where two weeks ago one farmer said his yard looked like a wheat field. That's not the case in most of the Hoosier state, however.
• Wet holes. There continue to be reports of drowned-out areas in some fields, typically in the lower, most productive areas, from all the spring rains. Even if the high ground yields 300 bushels per acre, five acres of zero yield in a 100 acre field will pull down the average yield. In fact, 95 acres of 200 bushel per acre and five acres of zero due to drown-out equals a whole field yield of 190 bushels per acre.
• Scattered reports of grain fill problems. These aren't numerous, but are a big deal to the farmers that have these fields. Indications are some may have been caused by errant fungicide or herbicide applications at the wrong time. However, there are a few reports of fields with mostly blank ears that seem to be tied to weather conditions during flowering on certain maturity hybrids. The condition certainly does not appear to be widespread, however.
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