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Corn specialist weighs in on USDA crop prediction

TAGS: Extension
Corn specialist weighs in on USDA crop prediction
Reasons why USDA Indiana crop yield estimate might fall.

With 53 counties declared disaster areas already, the USDA estimated yield for Indiana released earlier this month seems high to many people.

Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn specialist, understands why many people feel that way, especially if your farm is at the epicenter of the damage from flooding and ponding this year. However, he also understands how the report might turn out to be fairly accurate.

Related: Small ears won't add to yield total very fast

Find out why he makes the latter comments in tomorrow's news. Here's a closer look.

Did you count me? If this field could talk, it might wonder if it was counted in the August USDA estimate which still projected healthy corn yields for Indiana. Obviously, this field is not healthy.

"There are two legitimate points to make about differences in the August and September USDA reports," he says. The September report will be based upon information collected in the field by enumerators during the last few days of August.

"First, the August estimate is basically a reflection of plant population in Indiana, especially this year," the corn specialist says. "There weren't many fields with ears developed yet to get a feel for ear size and number of kernels per ear."

Information collected for the September report will contain that information, Nielsen says. It's possible that if ear size and kernel numbers are lower than expected, the estimate for Indiana could decline.

Part of that may hinge on how many of the samples are taken in hard-hit areas. The sampling pattern is pre-determined scientifically, and was prepared without regard to possible better or poorer areas of crops in the state.

Second, Nielsen suspects that USDA has not yet accounted for the full impact of acres that might be abandoned due to the poor growing conditions in some of the hardest-hit counties. Some of those may be prevented-planting acres. Others may be fields which simply won't be harvested.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that in some areas of north-central Indiana, farmers were already disking up corn fields as of a few days ago. Some of those acres may be going to cover crops. That may depend upon any herbicides already sprayed on the field, and possible plant-back restrictions.

Related: What will grain quality be like this fall?

Be sure to contact your crop insurance agent before destroying any of your crop.

Tune in tomorrow for the flip side of the coin – why the USDA August estimate may not be that far from reality.

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