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Better Corn Yields in Northern Indiana Boosted State Average

Better Corn Yields in Northern Indiana Boosted State Average
Some farmers harvested near normal yields in 2012.

Now that the county yield estimates for corn in 2012 are out, it's easier to follow the effect of drought and heat and soil type, all working together to nail yields in the southern half of Indiana. Meanwhile, yields in the northern half, while below normal, were considerably higher in most cases than in southern Indiana, with some exceptions.

Eleven counties actually posted yield estimates for corn of more than 120 bushels per acre, even in 2012. They were, starting at the top, Porter, 165.7; Lake, 158.7; Tipton, 157.9; Howard, 154.2; Jasper, 144.6; St. Joseph, 133.9; Newton, 132.6; Fulton, 127.1; Miami, 126.8; Wells, 122; and Hamilton, 121.9.

What drought? From the road, at least, some corn appeared normal last year, like this field in Hamilton County. Ears were shorter than normal, and yield was down, but still respectable.

Note that several of those counties are in northwest Indiana, and several in north-central Indiana. Northwest Indiana led the state with an average of more than 127 bushels per acre across the district, followed by north-central Indiana at 112. Despite a dry start, northeast Indiana wound up third with 106 bushels per acre, sneaking Wells County into the top 11 yielding counties.

With trend yield statewide at about 165 bushels per acre, this was still one of the worst corn crops in Indiana history. Bob Nielsen reported in December 2012 based on numbers available at the time that 2012 showed the greatest loss in terms of deviation below trend line since numbers were kept, beginning in 1866. The 99 or 100 bushel per acre actual yield is certainly well above yields of a century or more ago, but the drop from trend line, which is expected yield based on previous yields, was greater than ever before.

If there is any solace for farmers in southern Indiana, it's that soils are recharging rapidly there with late winter rains. Some areas of northern Indiana still remain on the dry side, especially in northwest Indiana.

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