LIMA — Yields are slightly below average, but recent upticks in grain markets that one area agricultural expert termed “generally unheard of” could make this year’s fall harvest a profitable one for farmers after all.
Despite prolonged dry spells during key portions of the growing seasons and widely sporadic rainfall as autumn approached, some industry experts remain optimistic as the harvest enters its home stretch.
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture Ohio Crop Weather report issued Nov. 2, roughly 77% of the state soybean crop has been harvested and 41% of Ohio’s corn crop is in the bin. The report said harvest progress is behind schedule, although local industry experts disagreed.
The statewide corn harvest figure mostly mirrors last year but trails the five-year average of 65% of the crop harvested by the beginning of November. Corn moisture averages across Ohio were listed at 22%, although local numbers reveals a lower moisture content.
Monte Heiby, branch manager of the Mercer Landmark elevator in the Van Wert County village of Elgin, said this year’s harvest is farther along than the statewide average, with “good to average” corn yields reported and a crop that is lower in moisture than figures reported by the state.
The soybean harvest is almost entirely finished, he added, with yields “struggling” to hit 50 to 55 bushels per acre after drought-like conditions hampered crop growth in July and August.
Heiby estimated that 70% of the corn harvest is complete in southern Van Wert County, with yields in the 170 to 200 bushel per acre range. Moisture has been running between 16-18%, well below the 22% state average.
“If this good weather keeps up we’ll be done with the harvest before you know it,” he said.
Straight from the combine
Clint Schroeder, ag specialist at the Ohio State University Cooperative Extension Office in Allen County, was out of the office on Thursday; he was tending to his own crops.
Schroeder — on a phone call placed, appropriately enough, from the cab of his combine — painted a picture of mixed yields and widely-varying scenarios across the local ag landscape.
“With soybeans across the region, yields have ranged anywhere from 25 to 75 bushels per acre. It’s mostly a matter of who got the rain and when they got it,” Schroeder said. “On the whole I think we’re running pretty close to average, maybe five bushels better than the 10-year average, which is around 46 bushels per acre in Allen County.”
Schroeder, who farms 400 acres in Putnam County with his father, said the same scenario exists with this year’s corn crop.
“Some fields were hit pretty hard by drought stress and intense heat during pollination. Personally, we had one field that had to be replanted this spring that did better than some of our earlier fields.”
He said yields are running about average at 160-165 bushels per acre, “although I’ve heard reports of up to 220 bushels.”
Additionally, grain prices are showing rallies not normally seen during the harvest season, Schroeder said.
“Beans were up 20 cents today and corn was up between 5 and 10 cents. While this may not be a bin-buster record when it comes to yields, we’re getting unexpected support from the markets.”