BEMENT – After two consecutive years of proclaiming "monstrous" corn yields for the area, officials at Topflight Grain are projecting slightly lower yields for 2008.
Teams of crop scouts sampling the corn population at random fields throughout Piatt, Champaign, Macon, Moultrie and Douglas counties between Friday and Tuesday for the 25th annual Topflight Grain Crop Tour found corn yields down a little from last year.
Topflight Grain Merchandiser Derrick Bruhn said the sampling indicates the average area farm will generate 172 bushels of corn per acre, down from 177 bushels an acre a year ago.
The highest corn yields were found in Macon County in areas least affected by this spring's heavy rains.
Surveys show an average yield of 183 bushels per acre there.
The lowest corn yields were in the Atwood area of Douglas County, which was pelted by heavy flooding, delaying corn planting in many areas.
Those farms show an average yield of 154 bushels per acre.
Topflight assistant manager Pam Jarboe said each team of crop scouts made approximately 10 stops, measuring the population count in 1/1,000th of an acre, and counting rows around the ear and the number of kernels in the length of a row.
Bruhn said that most of the scout teams noticed the corn ears blanking out or not filling near the tips.
"Most felt this was due to early stress, bugs or the later-season dry weather," Bruhn said.
One of the corn scouts, Kensuke Harashima of Champaign, noted mold on several of the corn ears he examined.
In the bean fields, the teams counted the pods on three plants, obtaining an average of 42 pods per plant. This compares with an average count last year of 47, indicating a lower yield for the 2008 soybean crop as well.
Bean fields showed a great variation in height, along with a great variation in maturity, with some fields still blooming, and others with well-filled pods.
Jeff Carpenter, commodity broker for FC Stone in Bloomington, told participants at this year's crop tour that the price of corn often correlates to the price of crude oil.
"Both of these commodities tend to feed on themselves as the dollar weakens," he said. "Currently, a lot of money is flowing into the commodity markets. The risk is that what went up together (commodities and oil) may come down together.
"The long-term charts indicate the growth will continue, but there will be bumps along the road."