Excellent corn yield highlights area farmers’ growing season

By GAY GRIESBACH - For the Daily News

Nov. 28, 2017

A break in the weather may signal the end of what has been a slow harvest season.

Light rains and heavy fog hampered progress in fields statewide, according to a Nov. 19 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service report.

Although it’s been a long corn and soybean harvest season, Mike Ballweg, University of Wisconsin-Extension Crops and Soils Specialist for Sheboygan, Washington and Ozaukee counties said weather has improved enough in the past week or so.

Statewide, corn harvested for grain by Nov. 19 was 69 percent complete, 12 days behind the average. Soybean harvest was reported at 94 percent complete, 11 days behind last year and eight days behind the average.

Ballweg estimated that now 80 percent of corn and 95 percent of soybeans are off the fields.

Fall weather has also been good when it comes to the planting of winter wheat.

Winter wheat emerged was reported at 96 percent complete, two days ahead of last year.

While temperatures in June, July and August were cooler than normal and October may have been cloudy and rainy, warm weather, particularly in September, made up for other weather-related deficits.

A late killing frost also helped.

Usually, the area experiences its first hard frost around Oct. 8-10.

“This year didn’t have hard frost until much later than normal,” Ballweg said. That late hard freeze also seems to have hastened the dry down for corn and both corn and soybeans are having a strong finish, Ballweg said.

“Farmers have been pleasantly surprised with the corn yield,” Ballweg said.

Nationally, a Nov. 9 Crop Production report for corn forecast 175.4 bushels per acre. If realized, it would be the highest yield on record for the United States.

While it may not be record-breaking here, Ballweg said corn yields have been excellent — well more than the five year average.

National soybean production is forecast at a record 4.43 billion bushels, up three percent from last year and the area for soybean harvest in the United States is forecast at a record high 89.5 million acres.

Locally Ballweg expects the soy harvest to be good — not as good as last year’s record yield, but above the five year average.

But big harvests mean low prices.

Ballweg said those prices are at break even at best for corn. Soybean prices are doing a bit better in relation to corn.

Since 2013, the national price of corn has dropped precipitously, from $7 per bushel to $3.27 in September this year.

Online cash bids at Farmers Grain and Feed in Allenton were $2.95 for corn and $9.11 for soybeans. In Hartford, United Cooperative Nov. 1 online cash bids for soybeans were $9.03 per bushel.

Ballweg said he’s heard of farmers skipping succession planting in favor of growing soybeans because of better prices, but it’s a practice he does not encourage because of the increased pressure of disease.