It wasn’t a great year for Fulton County corn and soybean crops but local agricultural officials say it could have been worse.
Area farmers are looking at average to slightly below average yields, thanks in part to the effects of torrential rains early in the season that socked areas of the county with varying degrees of flooding. In some cases, the amplified weather entirely or partially destroyed some crops, said Eric Richer, the county’s OSU Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources.
From April 30 to June 27, the county saw significant rainfall, in some areas three times the amount to which farmers are accustomed, he said. Their individual results were dependent upon the amount of rainfall their fields received, the quality of drainage, and soil type.
Still, soybean fields rebounded better after the heavy rains than did cornfields.
“It was a slightly below average year in which some farms recovered better than others,” Richer said. “(Farmers) are pleasantly surprised with their soybean yields, and somewhat disappointed with their corn yields, and that’s pretty much an average statement across the county. We have some very good corn yields, and the exact opposite, very poor corn yields.”
Corn yields last year averaged 183 bushels per acre, and soybeans yields 51 bushels per acre. Richer said historically corn is expected to tolerate water stress better than soybeans, “but that was somewhat the opposite in our county this year. Farmers thought corn would recover better but it didn’t to the level they hoped. We’re pleasantly surprised at what the beans did.”
The good news, Richer said, is that a lack of significant rainfall over the last six weeks allowed for an earlier, drier, and swifter harvest than in past years. “Without any weather event, the harvest was pretty much non-stop. All in all, a pretty safe harvest,” he said.
But bad news follows, he added. Based solely on yields, farm revenues will be down and margins tighter.
According to Neil Rupp, president of Pettisville Grain Company, prices for both crops today are roughly half the amount of three years ago. Previously $7 per bushel, corn currently stands at $3.80 per bushel. Soybeans, which were $14-$15 per bushel, are now at $8.50.
“I don’t see them going up near where they were. I’d say there’s more chance of going down then up,” Rupp said.
Prices have dropped due to considerably strong yields nationwide, despite the poorer turnout locally. Rupp said while the quality of the county’s corn and soybeans was generally ideal, bushels per acre varied wildly. He said yields from northern Fulton County were nearly double those from the southern end.
Kirk Keiser, a crop insurance specialist with Farm Credit Mid-America in Archbold, said the county’s farmers will file fewer claims than were anticipated after the heavy rains. But with a probable harvest price of 20 cents below guaranteed corn price and 80 cents below guaranteed soybean price, “this year’s looking to be a kind of break-even year on average,” he said.
Spring prices are currently projected at $9.73 for soybeans and $4.50 for corn.
Local farmer Craig Myers grew 540 acres of corn and 311 acres of soybeans this season. His harvest was below average but better than he had anticipated.
“I was expecting less than what we received, considering the weather at the beginning of summer,” he said.
With prices and yields down, Myers views the situation with an eye to the future. “I look forward to next year,” he said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.