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Serving: WI
harvested corn loading into truck stanley45/Getty Images
BOUNTIFUL YIELDS: Wisconsin farmers were pleasantly surprised at how well their corn and soybeans yielded this year, despite a wet spring and fall.

Harvests exceed expectations

Corn averages 177 bushels per acre; soybeans average 49 bushels.

Snowstorms in mid-April left much of Wisconsin blanketed in a foot of snow, with northeastern parts of the state buried under 2 to 3 feet of the white stuff. Heavy rains that caused flooding the first week of May delayed planting until mid-May for most farmers, who feared crops wouldn’t mature and yields would suffer. 

A summer drought in parts of northeastern Wisconsin, followed by more flooding in September and persistent rains that lasted through the first half of October, made for a challenging harvest.

But despite all that, farmers in the Dairy State harvested another bumper crop of corn and soybeans in 2018.

According to the Nov. 8 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service crop production report, the state is forecast to average 177 bushels of corn per acre, which is just 1 bushel shy of the record yield of 178 bushels set in 2016. Soybeans are expected to average 49 bushels per acre.

“The yields are much better than expected,” says Greg Bussler, state statistician for the USDA NASS Wisconsin Field Office. “I think farmers are quite pleased with yields despite the wet weather we had throughout most of the spring and fall.”

According to Bussler, the final production estimates for the 2018 growing season will be published in the Crop Production 2018 Summary Report to be released on Jan. 11.

“We are expecting that we harvested 2,190,000 soybean acres in 2018, a new record high that beats the old record set in 2017 by 50,000 acres,” Bussler says.

In 2018, farmers produced 531 million bushels of corn, which is the second-largest crop on record. The record number of corn acres was set in 2016.

Soybean production likely will set a record in Wisconsin in 2018. Soybean production is forecast at 107.31 million bushels, compared to 101.65 million bushels in 2017 and 107.3 million bushels in 2016, according to the USDA NASS crop production report.

The Nov. 8 forecast for soybean yield is 49 bushels per acre, which is 2.5 bushels more than 2017 and 6 bushels less than the record-setting yield of 55 bushels in 2016.

“Overall, I think farmers were quite pleased with yields, and many were probably pleasantly surprised,” Bussler says.

Record U.S. yields
“The U.S. also had excellent yields in 2018,” Bussler says. The U.S. is expected to set records for both corn and soybean yields in 2018. The average corn yield is 178.9 bushels per acre. The average soybean yield is 52.1 bushels per acre.

Bussler says soybean production in 2018 for the U.S. is forecast at 4.6 billion bushels, which is a record. The previous record was 4.41 billion bushels, set in 2017. Total acres of soybeans harvested in the U.S. in 2018 is 88.3 million acres, down from 89.5 million in 2017.

Nine states had record soybean yields in 2018, including: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Corn production for the nation in 2018 is forecast at 14.6 billion bushels, which is up less than 1% from 2017.

Based on conditions as of Nov. 1, yields are expected to average 178.9 bushels per acre, which is a record and up 2.3 bushels from 2017.

“If realized, this will be the highest corn yield and second-highest production on record for the United States,” Bussler says. “The area harvested for corn is forecast at 81.8 million acres, which is down 1% from 2017.”

Bussler notes there were record corn yields in 10 states: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, South Dakota and Tennessee.

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