Disappointment Sets In For Iowa Corn Growers

Tracy Busch assessed a partially harvested cornfield from his combine cab this week.

"The corn is standing well enough, but the ears are smaller and the yields are down," he said.

Busch said a field between Ames and Boone, IA, which a year ago yielded 200 bushels per acre, yielded between 140 and 170 bushels this year. The difference was too much rain in July and abnormally cool temperatures in the post-pollination period soon after.

"We lost a lot of nitrogen with all the rain in July, and it shows with the smaller ears," Busch said.

Good early planting conditions in April mean the corn crop is ready for harvest earlier than the traditional Oct. 1 start date. But the electronic yield monitors on combines so far have displayed disappointing results.

"Things aren’t very good," said Bruce Johnson, who farms just north of Ankeny, IA. "We’re seeing yields around 150 bushels per acre on a field that last year did 200."

Johnson was philosophical.

"We haven’t had a poor crop for a while, so we were due," he said. "We’ll get by."

The disappointment in this year’s corn crop is more acute because it started with such optimism. Farmers took advantage of unusually warm and dry weather around April 1 to do some of their earliest corn planting, a relief after the rain- and snow-delayed harvest of 2009.

"Boy, it was nice then," Busch recalled of the April planting days. "Then we had a frost in May, on Mother’s Day, and that was followed by all the rain. We’ve fought conditions ever since."

Doug Holliday of Adair said "people around here are pretty disappointed. They’re used to good yields. We knew it would be tougher this year."

Iowa farmers readily admit that the eruption in yields to a statewide average of 182 bushels per acre last year — vs. 166 bushels in 2006, 126 bushels in 1990 and 110 bushels in 1980 — has led them to think of a corn yield less than 180 bushels per acre as a poor year.

The question now is not whether Iowa’s crop will fail to match last year’s 182-bushel average, but the amount of the decline. The USDA’s latest forecast put Iowa’s yield this year at 179 bushels, a figure Iowa State University agronomist Roger Elmore said "may be a little on the optimistic side."

The Agriculture Department has dropped its national estimate from 165 bushels per acre to 162 bushels

A private forecasting company, Informa, put some jitters into the corn markets two weeks ago by lowering its estimate to 159 bushels per acre, which would translate to an Iowa yield of about 175 bushels. Those forecasts and the early gloomy reports from the combines have pushed corn prices to a two-year high of $5.05 per bushel.

On paper, that $5 price looks good. But it won’t help much if yields are down or if farmers contracted too much of their corn earlier this year at lower prices.

Iowa is the nation’s No. 1 corn-producing state, and sales from the 13 million acres of corn puts $10 billion or more into the state’s economy each year, the biggest chunk of Iowa’s agricultural sector.

"Everybody who sold corn forward earlier wishes they hadn’t," Holliday said. "But you can’t outguess the market."

Busch said: "I’m about 50 percent sold. I got a price around $4 per bushel, and that works for us.

"Frankly, that $5 corn causes a lot of problems," he said, reflecting problems all of agriculture had with volatile markets that reached record highs in mid-2008. "Five-dollar corn isn’t necessarily that good for us."

The early planting means a harvest earlier than usual. Farmers normally begin their harvest with soybeans. But the early maturity of the corn this year has meant corn could be harvested while farmers wait for rain-soaked soybeans to dry.

The earlier corn harvest gives farmers some protection from a usual harvest worry: early frost.

It also means that corn can dry better, reducing if not eliminating the ultra-wet conditions of fall 2009 that put heavy demands on the state’s grain-drying systems.

Kyle Chestnut unloaded corn harvested from the farm of his father, Scott, at the West Central Elevator east of Boone and said the load averaged 17 percent moisture. A year ago, farmers were struggling to dry corn with moisture levels of 25 percent or more, at least 10 points above the 15 percent required by processors and ethanol plants.

(Source: Dan Piller, DesmoinesRegister.com)

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

EquipmentAGCO Announces Operator Of The Year Finalists
November 20, 2014
Four custom applicators have been selected by AGCO Application Equipment as finalists for 2014 Operator of the Year, an honor that recognizes them as being among the top professionals in their industry throughout North America. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Ag Acquires Colorado Aerial Application Outlet
November 17, 2014
Ft. Lupton, CO-based Reck Aviation — a full-service chemical application company providing aerial crop applications of fertilizers and crop protection products — will operate as part of Pinnacle's AgOne Application Services brand. Read More
Seed CareSeed Care Success Stories: Prible Ag Products And Valent
November 3, 2014
These two companies combined forces to help fight disease pressures in Northern Indiana and Ohio. Read More
InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More

Trending Articles

HerbicidesAdjusting To The New Reality Of Weed Control
November 4, 2014
Even with new cropping systems being readied for market introductions, weed control will remain a challenge for many. Read More
StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More

Latest News

soybean field
Crop InputsABM Patents Microbial R&D Technique
November 25, 2014
Focused Microbial Diversity (FMD) is a newly patented technique employed by Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM) to research and develop microbials that will be used in ABM products Read More
Crop InputsStorage Options Help Grain Growers Go To Market
November 24, 2014
While on-farm storage in a traditional upright storage bin is one possibility for storing grain, it may not be for everyone. Read More
Eric SfiligojGiving Thanks For Another Great Year
November 24, 2014
As Thanksgiving Day 2014 arrives, agriculture has plenty to be thankful for. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Cost-Cutting Program To Affect 1,800 Jobs
November 24, 2014
The company's Accelerating Operational Leverage program will result in job reductions and relocations totaling around 1,800 across the company, the majority of which will occur in 2015. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Announces Operator Of The Year Finalists
November 20, 2014
Four custom applicators have been selected by AGCO Application Equipment as finalists for 2014 Operator of the Year, an honor that recognizes them as being among the top professionals in their industry throughout North America. Read More
MicronutrientsH.J. Baker Expands Tiger-Sul Business
November 20, 2014
H.J. Baker has created and filled two strategic positions in business development and sales within its Crop Performance Division. Read More
soybean field
FertilizerGeneral Mills Honors United Suppliers For Nitrogen Opti…
November 19, 2014
United Suppliers winning proposal detailed SUSTAIN, a consulting network that provides customized products and services for farmers using a needs-based system approach. Read More
EmployeesOhio AgriBusiness Association Awards $25,000 In Scholar…
November 19, 2014
Each year, the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Educational Trust scholarship program awards scholarship dollars to students enrolled in an agriculture-related field attending several state colleges. Read More
ManagementServi-Tech Names New CEO
November 17, 2014
Servi-Tech has named Greg Ruehle its new president and CEO. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Ag Acquires Colorado Aerial Application Outlet
November 17, 2014
Ft. Lupton, CO-based Reck Aviation — a full-service chemical application company providing aerial crop applications of fertilizers and crop protection products — will operate as part of Pinnacle's AgOne Application Services brand. Read More
Eric SfiligojMcDonald’s Message: Biotech Crops Scarier Than Cancer
November 17, 2014
Despite their potential health benefits, one of the world’s largest potato users will pass on a new biotech offering. Read More
MicronutrientsWinField Releases 2014 NutriSolutions Results
November 14, 2014
A number of significant regional and national crop deficiency trends emerged from the 2014 WinField NutriSolutions tissue sampling program. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Opens Chinese Production Lines
November 14, 2014
The occasion was the official launch of the Tiger-Sul sulphur Bentonite production line of two much anticipated fertilizer products in China, T90CR sulphur fertilizer and TZinc micronutrient enhanced sulphur fertilizer. Read More
ManagementOhio Certified Crop Adviser Program Accepting Nominatio…
November 14, 2014
The award recognizes an individual who delivers exceptional customer service for farmer clients in nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop production in Ohio. Read More
HerbicidesSyngenta Announces Acuron Trial Plot Results
November 14, 2014
Acuron was tested at 167 trial locations across 35 states. Trials included 95 Syngenta locations, 54 university locations and 18 distributor locations. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Expands Sales Force
November 13, 2014
The new sales representatives will work with growers, retail partners and distributors to oversee technical training and product education. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Raises $100K For Wounded Warrior Project
November 13, 2014
AGCO Corp. partnered with local AGCO dealers across the U.S. and Canada to raise nearly $100,000 in support of wounded service veterans. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Launch Of Enlist Duo Herbici…
November 12, 2014
It will be launched in conjunction with a stewarded introduction of Enlist corn, and seed production of Enlist soybeans in 2015. Read More