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With harvest pretty well wrapped up, area corn yields are sticking to early estimates in regards to local yields. In central Illinois, crop experts are still averaging mostly 120 bushel per acre corn, which was almost all out of the fields by this week. The figures are well under the 180 to 200 bushel per acre crop that farmers cut in a typical year.
But soybeans are coming in closer to five-year averages, thanks to rain supplied by Hurricane Isaac late in the growing season.
“Our beans were a little better than expected,” said Monticello-area farmer Terry Lieb, who harvested soybeans in the 50 to 60 bushel per acre range. “The late rains helped.”
Those rains were too late for the corn, which suffered through a summer drought that followed a dry winter. Adam Jackson, a grain originator with Topflight Grain Cooperative in Monticello, said yields were variable.
“We had certain areas that were 80 to 90 an acre, and others that got 160” in Piatt County, said Jackson.
U of I Extension Crop Educator Dennis Bowman agrees.
“The St. Joseph area had some better corn yields – 160-ish and better. But there were a fair number of corn fields that were below 50,” said Bowman. “And the aflotoxin in the corn was a problem for both farmers and elevators.”
Aflotoxin is an ear-rot fungus that is more common in hot, dry years. When it is above a certain level grain elevators cannot accept the grain. U.S. Food and Drug Agency statues still allow for such grain to be used for livestock feed, but the allowable aflotoxin level varies by animal.
Better than expected
Despite the lower yields on corn, Jackson said reaching 120 bushels per acre is “pretty good. You couldn’t ask for more with the weather we’ve had.” He said the advancement in seed hybrids and farming practices overall lessened the impact of the summer drought.
Eric Miller, who farms in the Hammond/Bement area, was surprised his corn harvest averaged around 140 bushels per acre.
“Seeds are a lot more stress tolerant, and soil type is a big factor. The topography has always helped us around here,” said Miller, who estimated his soybean yields topped 50 bushels per acre.
The area has been the recipient of a wet fall, but Lieb said more moisture is needed or 2013 could start with the same low-moisture situation as this past spring.
“The ground is moist on top, but get down a foot or two and it’s pretty dry. We still need some moisture,” he said.
The latest Illinois Department of Agriculture crop report validates that assessment. The report said two percent of topsoil in the central part of the state has a surplus of moisture, with 90 percent of soil rating out as ‘adequate.’ When rating the subsoil, however, just one percent in the area is carrying a surplus, 60 percent is rated as adequate and 37 percent is short of moisture.
Miller said the soil on his farm is well on the way to recharging, with about 16 inches or rain received since August.
“With a normal winter and spring moisture we should be back to a recharged profile,” commented Miller.