PIATT COUNTY — It is not unusual for Piatt County to hold bragging rights when it comes to soybean yields.
But last year it wasn’t even particularly close.
Figures released by the United States Department of Agriculture on Feb. 25 show Piatt County averaged 70.5 bushels per acre in soybean fields last fall, tops in the state. The next closest was 67.6 bpa in Logan County.
Topflight Grain Cooperative General Manager Derrick Bruhn said the figures were about what he expected, noting that while a wet spring hurt corn yields a bit, the growing season was nearly ideal for later-maturing soybeans.
“When I looked at the bean yields last fall, talking with producers and looking at production records, it did appear that 70 was a common yield for this area, and in other counties that we touch it was not that uncommon either,” Bruhn said.
Topflight has facilities in Piatt, Logan, Champaign and Macon counties. Champaign County farmers averaged 65 bushels per acre, and Macon 65.1.
Preliminary research conducted by Topflight mechandiser Jeremy Glauner places Piatt as the number three soybean county in the nation when it comes to average yields, behind Meade County, Kansas (72.3 bpa) and Phelps County, Nebraska (71.3). Glauner pointed out many farms in the top two counties use irrigation.
Piatt County also topped the state in soybean yield averages at least four times between 2010 and 2019, including in 2015 when it led the state in both average soybean and corn yields.
Piatt County Farm Bureau Manager said the honor is a nice feather in local farmers’ caps, but that it’s pretty much business as usual for local agriculturalists.
“They all are very proud to have their accomplishments recognized, but their main goal is to take care of the soil and raise great crops, and they do that every year regardless of yields,” Milton said.
Piatt County’s corn harvest was not too shabby either, with its average of 211.7 logging it fourth behind Menard (216.3), Peoria (214.7) and Stark (212.4) counties.
Bruhn said while many farmers in Piatt County averaged better than 220 bushels per acre, there were wet spots due to excessive rain, most notably in the southern end of the county.
“There were a lot of replants last year,” he said.
If weather permits, Bruhn sees farmers hitting the fields earlier this fall to take advantage of good prices on old crop corn, which is in demand from importers in China.
“They are aggressively seeking old crop, and that will encourage the producer to plant a little earlier, just to take advantage of any premiums that are there,” Bruhn said.
As for planting conditions, he said the recent freeze is good for soil structure, but that soil moisture is slightly below average. He said while the county will probably not be on the drought monitor watch list after Saturday’s rain, there is still a need for additional soil moisture prior to planting.
Milton said farmers are pleased with better prices, but overall “I would say they all feel a little uncertain. A new administration is a big change and therefore can affect so many things within the markets. It will be interesting to see how things go.”