Eric Richer, Fulton County agricultural extension agent, said it’s too soon for firm numbers, but he believes corn yields were a little bit better than the averages Fulton County farmers anticipated.
But soybean yields across the county were widely varied.
“That’s about as good as I can wrap it up,” he said.
In a Thursday, Dec. 7 interview, Richer said, “generally, the weather helped, as it usually does. It dictates our crops and our yields.
“We were fairly wet in June and July, and then Mother Nature turned off the water, so we finished up pretty dry.
“With the exception of early October rain events, we had a pretty decent fall.”
The variability resulted from the weather events.
“We had some rain around planting time that delayed planting for a lot of guys,” he said.
“Not as bad as counties like Defiance and Paulding and Van Wert– those guys, and even further south along the Indiana border… replanted up to two times. We had some soybean replants, we had some corn replants, and I think that contributes to the variable yields.”
“Last year (2016) we had great, great yields in general,” he said.
In 2016, the countywide average for corn was 177.6 bushels per acre. The soybean average was 58.4 bushels per acre, a new record for Fulton County.
“I would be surprised if our county corn yield surpassed 2016, and I’m confident our 2016 soybean yields were better than 2017,” Richer said.
“A lot of that was because of the variability in the weather. Just the opposite situation happened in 2016; we had a perfect August for growing soybeans.
“The record corn yield for Fulton County was set in 2013, when farmers harvested corn at the rate of 188.8 bushels to the acre,” Richer said.
“We could probably match last year’s yield on corn.”
For soybeans, the market price paid to farmers for soybeans “is up a little bit from the 2016 mark at the beginning of the year, and corn is down.
“But it still seems, from a corn to beans price ratio, that beans are in a better situation from a market price perspective.
“You take the corn price times three, and you’re about at the soybean price. So right now in the market, the bean price is about there, but you know as we round the corner into a new year, the markets do crazy things.”
For farmers operating cattle feed lots, the profit margin has tightened, “but the silver lining in the livestock world is cheaper feed prices. Cheaper corn allows the livestock guy to make a little bit more margin,” Richer said.
“You continue to see a strong demand for pork products. You continue to see a strong demand for beef products.
“Milk is probably the one that hasn’t seen as strong a demand. There’s a lot of dairy cows in the world.”
For farmers operating dairy operations, “I think they have the tightest squeeze on them right now.”
Based on information from the Ohio Dairy Association, Richer said there are seven Grade A dairies selling fluid milk in Fulton County.
Is the number of dairy operations in the county down from past years?
“Oh yeah. Big time,’ he said.
For other species, “The swine market is ramping up, the poultry market is, well– we don’t have any chickens in the county.”
Actually, there probably are a few chickens in the county, “and they get slaughtered at fair time as kids’ projects,” he said.
“Poultry and swine, from a profit prospective, are very profitable livestock enterprises.”
An interesting factor that has affected some cattle operations is a decision by one of the country’s large meat packers to stop accepting Holstein beef.
“In Archbold that’s a notable point, because there’s lots of Holstein beef on feed,” he said.
“The guys who are feeding lots of cattle, they’re hauling truckloads somewhere. They’re taking them to a nationwide packer, a place that does a lot of beef carcasses a day.
“A particular packer said for whatever reason, and they haven’t been real transparent about it, says they are no longer accepting Holstein beef. This happened around Christmastime last year.
“The supply at this other packer has increased greatly from a regional perspective, so all they need to do is lower their price, you know– supply and demand economics,” he said.
“That has helped bring that Holstein beef price down.
“Holstein beef in western Fulton County contributes significantly to our local economy.
“There’s a lot of barns, hobby farmers to full-time cattlemen, that are feeding Holstein beef.”