A fickle Mother Nature took a swipe at Fulton County corn and soybeans this growing season, leaving both with a promise of just average yields.
It’s a greater disappointment for the county’s soybean farmers, who last year brought in all-time record yields.
Weather patterns brought heavy rain from late June to about mid-July that left some county fields soaking in a total of five to eight inches of rain, according to Eric Richer, the county’s OSU Extension director. The patterns then kept fields mostly dry throughout August and into September.
“So much of our crop season is dictated by the weather,” Richer said. “The year, again, had some crazy weather events, different than last year. Mother Nature caused an impact on our production year.”
The county’s southern portion received more rainfall than the northern portion, but in both sections the precipitation created flooded fields and low spots that were drowned out, he said.
“We spent the remainder of July recovering, just to get to August to have only trace rainfall events,” he said. “The crops look decent despite that rainfall pattern, but no one will know until the combines are out this fall.”
Corn took a hit as well from common rust, a fungal disease that became the crop’s most prevalent malady this season. Some fields also suffered mid-season from Western bean cutworm which feeds on the ears. Separately from disease, ears started to drop earlier than normal.
However, none of those factors will have as much impact on yields as the weather, Richer said, adding, “Weather dictates your crop.”
He foresees a trend line average in corn yields, 177.6 bushels per acre, about the same yield Fulton County experienced last season.
The heavy rainfall over three weeks in June and July took out the top end yield of soybeans, with the southern part of the county getting the worst of it, Richer said. The crop also suffered phypophora root rot in some fields.
The result will likely be an average crop, a disappointment for county soybean farmers, who last year hauled in 58.4 bushels per acre, an all-time record yield.
“I would be surprised to see the quality yields we had in 2016, but 2016 was a phenomenal soybean year,” Richer said. He believes this year’s yields will be closer to trend line yields – between 49-52 bushels per acre.
“From the farmer’s perspective, the most disappointing part of this production year is probably going to be the price,” he said. “I predict we’re going to have an average crop with lower than recent average prices.”
And yet, Fulton County still fared better than Henry, Paulding, and Putnam counties, which received heavier rainfall.
Craig Myers farms 385 acres of soybeans in Wauseon. He said the prospect of another record harvest has been dashed by too much rain at planting time and not enough through August and September.
“The crop will not finish off well,” he said. “Our crop was pretty healthy, (but) it was damaged by too much moisture, then not enough moisture.”
Myers said the intensity of the early rains made it impossible to protect the soybeans, and the ensuing drier weather did not allow them to progress well. Consequently, prices have dropped, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting average harvests of just under 50 bushels per acre.
Harvest begins in three weeks, but Myers said the outcome is uncertain. “It’s anybody’s guess,” he said.
Corn fared as well throughout Ohio. Current numbers from the National Agricultural Statistics Service project an average state corn yield of 173 bushels per acre, up from an average 159 bushels per acre last year. A total of 3.5 million acres of corn were planted, with an expected 3.23 million acres to be harvested.
The NASS predicts soybeans will be down half a bushel from last year, at 54 bushels per acre. Five million acres were planted in Ohio, with 4.99 million expected to be harvested.
“They’re pretty good yields,” said Cheryl Turner, an NASS statistician. “They’re not bad numbers at all.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.