Plot Day

BASF Agronomist and Innovation Specialist Jeremy Hogan spoke to farmers, Wednesday, August 21, 2013, during Soy Capital Ag Services Annual Plot Day at the William Killian Trust Farm operated by Jim Ondeck. The Pantagraph, Lori Ann Cook-Neisler

Lori Ann Cook-Neisler

BLOOMINGTON — McLean County farmers will harvest some of their most bountiful corn crops in years this fall, but they’ll be paid less for it.

Soy Capital Ag Services released its corn yield estimates Tuesday, surveying 163 fields throughout every township in McLean County. Testers estimate the average yield will be 192 bushels per acre, the best outlook for corn since 2009, the company said in a release Tuesday.

Affected by the drought, McLean County’s actual average yield was about 110 bushels per acre last year, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The county’s average yield over the past five years has been 170 bushels.

At the same time, corn prices have fallen. The price was $4.53 per bushel Tuesday at Randolph Cooperative Grain, an elevator in Hey-worth. That’s about $2.50 lower than it was last fall, said Manager Steve Cope.

“With a bigger crop there’s a bigger supply, and with the higher prices we’ve seen the past several years, we’ve probably lost a lot of demand,” Cope said.

Crops appear stronger this year all around, with 65 per-cent of fields returning yields above 185 bushels and every field returning a yield above 100 bushels, compared to just 6 percent last year and 30 percent in 2011, according to Soy Capital data. Fields also produced more individual corn plants per acre than in any year Soy Capital has conducted the study, said Amy Russell, agronomic research manager for Soy Capital. Fields produced an average of 33,230 plants per acre.

Farmers aggressively planted new hybrid species of corn and warm, wet soil conditions were ideal for producing so many corn plants, Russell said.

“Farmers are pushing the populations on a lot of these hybrid (corn species) to improve yields,” Russell said.

Still, it could’ve been a better year. A dry August held crops back, Russell said.

The situation is ironic in light of this year’s planting season, when heavy rains forced most McLean County farmers to delay planting until mid- to late May, said Scott Hoeft, president of the McLean County Farm Bureau. Yields may also be affected due to areas that became drowned out by the planting season’s heavy rains, he said.

“Everybody is happy with the corn crop we have compared to last year, but we had the potential for a much greater crop,” Hoeft said. “There’s a little remorse due to the fact the weather has turned unfavorable during the last few weeks of growing season.”

Soy Capital’s estimates are in line with other organization’s estimates for corn crops throughout Central Illinois. Heartland Bank surveyed samples in 120 locations throughout Central Illinois and estimated yields of about 184 bushels per acre. Deer Creek-based grain elevator Bell Enterprises estimated about 199 bushels.

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