Report predicts lower yields for corn, soybeans in area fields

A report released over the weekend indicates that corn and soybean yields in East Central Illinois are expected to be lower than a year ago.

According to a new crop-production report released by the Illinois Department of Agriculture's national statistics service on Friday afternoon, corn yields are expected to be as much as 18 bushels an acre below a year ago, while soybean yields have fallen as much as 9 bushels an acre below 2007.

The yield decreases are expected to be higher in the northern portion of the News-Gazette readership area, according to National Agricultural Statistics Service spokesman Mark Schleusener.

In the east region, which includes Champaign, Vermilion, Piatt, Ford, Iroquois, Kankakee and Livingston counties, corn yields are forecast to drop from 184 to 166 acres per bushel.

In the east-southeast region, which includes Douglas, Moultrie, Edgar, Shelby, Coles, Clark, Cumberland, Fayette, Effingham, Jasper and Crawford counties, corn yields fell from 160 to 158 acres per bushel.

Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Brad Uken attributed this year's changes to the weather.

"There's no question that we will see a reduction in yields from last year," Uken said. "We had a wetter than average spring, and the wet spring created ponds where corn or soybeans couldn't grow. Then we had a dry August. All these things had an impact on yields."

The study also shows yield drops for soybeans, with yields in the east region falling from 53 to 44 bushels per acre and yields in the east-southeast region dropping from 40 to 38 bushels per acre.

The study also shows that area farmers planted fewer acres of corn and more acres of soybeans than a year ago.

Farmers planted 1,666 acres of corn in the east region this summer, down from 1,844 a year ago. But soybean acreage in the east region jumped from 1,153 in 2007 to 1,279 in 2008.

East-southeastern farmers planted 1,547 acres of corn, a decrease from 1,729 in 2007. Soybean acreage in the east-southeast grew from 1,424 in 2007 to 1,577 in 2008.

Uken attributed the changes to farmer input costs.

"It's basic economics," Uken said. "If you grow corn, you need to use nitrogen fertilizer. Since the price of nitrogen fertilizer rose dramatically, some farmers chose to plant more soybeans."

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