Proof Of Indiana Crop Variability Mounts

Tales of up and down yields dot the state.

Published on: Dec 8, 2011

It's not hard to find farmers with field averages that varied form 6- to 170 bushels per acre on corn in Indiana this past season. It's also not hard farmers with soybean averages near 40, but field averages form 15 to 55. And it's certainly not hard to find farmers who will tell you the yield sometimes varied on corn by 100 bushels in one pass across the field. What is hard to find is someone who had consistent yields across all the acreage they farm, and who is satisfied with their yields.

One farmer with super-variable soil types told us it was a roller coaster this year. Even irrigated ground, most of it nearly pure sand, hustled to make 160 to 170 bushels of corn per acre. It was not a year for the feint of heart.

The common theme seems to be that yield averages were Ok, but certainly could have been better. Prices have softened the blow, although sagging prices due to worries about global economic concerns by large commercial investors have put the damper on that front for the time being.

Arlan Suderman, marketing specialist for Farm Progress Companies, says this the year of the 'bull that didn't run.' All the makings seemed to be there for a bull market in the fall- a short crop coupled with weather issues, especially in the Eastern Corn Belt, and minimal world stocks. However, Wall Street investors have been too fearful to jump in, for feat banks might collapse if the European economy implodes, Suderman writes.

More or less, the basic realities are still there- corn stocks are tight. Exports are still reasonable strong, although demand is down somewhat from last year. Now Suderman and others will wait to see what the final 2011 crop report issued by the government says in early January. He still believes USDA could take some more bushels off the final U.S. yield estimate.

One factor weighing in that was consistent for most people was lots of heat and warm nights during pollination last summer. As it did a year ago, it's likely very high nighttime temperatures helped put a lid on yields that were already sinking anyway. Plants burn up energy respiring instead of putting it into the kernel when nighttime temperatures remain high.