American Agriculturist Logo

Production and yields weren’t spectacular, but some growers fared much better than others.

Chris Torres, Editor, American Agriculturist

November 17, 2020

4 Min Read
Grain storage on Manbeck farm in Berks County, Pa.
HARVEST COMPLETE: Grain storages, such as this one on the Manbeck farm in Berks County, Pa., are filled for the season. Most corn and soybeans in south-central Pennsylvania have been harvested with average yields being reported, although some farmers did much better than others. Chris Torres

November’s crop production report shows 10 states setting corn yield records this year. New York state, at 166 bushels an acre, is among them, but Mother Nature can’t take all the credit.

Much of the state was below normal in rainfall, with some parts of the state experiencing severe drought for much of the growing season. Corn production is forecast at 86.3 million bushels, up slightly from last year but down from the October forecast. Growers are harvesting 520,000 acres of grain, down 25,000 acres from last year.

Ron Robbins, a 7,000-acre grower and dairy farmer in Sacketts Harbor, N.Y. — near Watertown — says he was amazed by the 170-bushel yields his combine was reading last week. It’s been a dry growing season — with only 6 inches of rain on his farm between June 1 and Sept. 30, he says. He grows 1,500 acres of grain corn and 1,400 acres of silage — his average was 17 tons an acre.

So what does he credit for his success? Attention to detail and better use of technology, including grid mapping, variable-rate fertilizer, lime seeding and keeping a close eye on his crops during the growing season through tissue sampling.

His soybeans fared well, too, averaging 57.5 bushels an acre. He grows 1,480 acres. Empire State growers are expected to harvest 15 million bushels of soybeans with average yields of 50 bushels an acre.

Corn production in Pennsylvania is forecast at 152 million bushels, down 6.17% from last year and down from the October harvest. The average yield is 152 bushels an acre. Growers are harvesting 1 million acres of corn for grain, down 60,000 acres from last year.

November corn and soybean production table

Ben Peckman, who farms 1,100 acres in St. Thomas, Pa., says his yields averaged between 120 and 180 bushels an acre. “Frankly, with the weather extremes we had, I am quite happy. Average would be somewhere around 140,” he says. His soybeans, however, were disappointing.

“I think average is 50 with beans," Peckman says. "However, the last couple years, we were 60-plus, so it did seem like it took a while to fill trucks. All in all, a very good ending to a crazy year."

Pennsylvania’s average soybean yield is unchanged from last year at 49 bushels an acre, while production is down slightly to 29.6 million bushels.

Delaware’s corn production forecast is unchanged from October — 181 bushels an acre and 30.7 million bushels, both up from last year. Soybean production and yield estimates also are unchanged — 6.95 million bushels and 47 bushels an acre.

Cory Atkins, who farms 800 acres in Seaford, Del., is disappointed by his corn yields. His irrigated ground, which averaged 260 bushels last year, only averaged 200 bushels this year. He can’t explain why his corn yields declined, but he suspects it might have been higher plant populations or cool, cloudy conditions in August that may have affected plant growth.

His nonirrigated ground averaged between 120 and 150 bushels an acre. His soybean yields were above average, ranging anywhere from 45 to 55 bushels an acre. Nonirrigated soybeans ranged from 30 to 40 bushels an acre.

Maryland’s corn production is forecast at 69.6 million bushels, down 5.94% from last year and down slightly from the October forecast. Average yield is 153 bushels an acre, down nearly 5% from last year and down from last month’s forecast.

Growers are harvesting 455,000 acres of corn grain, down 5,000 acres from last year.

The state’s soybean production is 22.7 million bushels, up 8.6% from last year, but down from the October forecast. The average yield is 47 bushels an acre, up 6.81% from last year, but also down from the October forecast.  

National view

Corn production for grain is forecast at 14.5 billion bushels, down 1% from the previous forecast, but up 7% from 2019. Yields are expected to average 175.8 bushels per acre, down 2.6 bushels from the previous forecast, but up 8.3 bushels from last year, the third-highest yield on record.  

Area harvested for grain is forecast at 82.5 million acres, unchanged from the previous forecast, but up 1% from the previous year.

Soybean production is forecast at 4.17 billion bushels, down 2% from the previous forecast, but up 17% from last year. Yields are expected to average 50.7 bushels per acre, down 1.2 bushels from the previous forecast, but up 3.3 bushels from 2019. Area harvested for beans is forecast at 82.3 million acres, unchanged from the previous forecast, but up 10% from 2019.

The monthly Crop Progress Report is based off yield and farm operator surveys that were conducted between Oct. 24 and Nov. 5. The farm operator survey was conducted primarily by telephone with some use of mail, internet and personal interviewers. About 7,800 producers were interviewed.  

About the Author(s)

Chris Torres

Editor, American Agriculturist

Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.

Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.

"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."

Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like