by SUSAN MANN
“It’s a very robust crop for both corn and soybeans,” says Ellen Dougherty, USDA spokesperson. “There really wasn’t any significant impact from the flooding.”
The American corn crop is forecast to be 12.3 billion bushels – the second largest in history. Based on conditions as of Aug. 1, corn yields are expected to be an average of 155 bushels per acre. That’s up 3.9 bushels per acre compared to last year. If those are the actual yields at harvest time it would be the second highest corn yield on record behind 2004.
U.S. farmers are expected to harvest 79.3 million acres of corn for grain – down eight per cent from last year.
Soybean production is forecast at 2.97 billion bushels, up 15 per cent from last year but down seven per cent from the 2006 record crop of 3.19 billion bushels.
Yields are expected to average 40.5 bushels per acre, down 0.7 bushels per acre from last year. Record yields in soybeans of 43 bushels per acre were hit in 2005.
The American soybean crop looks pretty good, says Ontario Soybean Growers chair Leo Guilbeault, who was in the U.S. last week with growers from the Midwest. “The corn is struggling more than soybeans. I think they were estimating corn (yields) at 155 (bushels per acre) and they said they’ll never hit that.” But reaching the projected soybean yield of 40.5 bushels is possible.
In Ontario, the weather during the past month has provided almost ideal growing conditions for soybeans, Guilbeault notes, adding in his area of Essex County the crop looks really good.
It’s too early to predict Ontario soybean production and yields. Officials will have a better idea later this month or early next month.
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs corn specialist Greg Stewart says 1.75 to 1.8 million acres of corn are expected to be harvested this year,. That’s down from the record of 2.2 million acres last year.
“I think corn producers are still estimating a yield of about 140 bushels per acre, which will be above the five-year average of about 136 (bushels per acre),” he notes. The record yield in Ontario was 151 bushels per acre in 2006.
What the final yields turn out to be at harvest times depends on getting the crop to mature. “We’re not exactly racking up heat units these days,” he says.
Near record rainfalls across Ontario this summer this has meant that on shallow or heavy clay soils where drainage is poor the crop is starting to show signs of unevenness. “You get five inches of rain on a clay soil it’s impossible for that water to do anything but do some ponding and therefore that’s causing some of those fields to look considerably less uniform than we’d like,” Stewart explains.
But on fields where drainage is better there aren’t any particular warning flags emerging because of the heavy rainfall this year. There are little more leaf diseases in the crop this year, mainly due to the frequent rainfalls and high humidity.
“All in all I think we’re still fairly positive about the potential for the corn crop,” he says.
Another part of this year’s weather story is hail. Stewart describes this year as the ‘year of hail’ with some part of the province getting pelted almost every week. But the total acreage affected is still small.
“In some cases we have farmers reporting that the hail has virtually stripped all of the leaves off the plant,” he says. If that happens when the plant is setting its ear, high yield reductions are inevitable. BF