As Fulton County farmers begin harvesting their drought-damaged 2012 crops, reports from the fields are mixed.
Eric Richer, Fulton County agriculture extension agent, said Monday county farmers were expecting the worst, but are reporting “a tick better than the worst.”
Farmers who were estimating that their 2012 corn crop would be 25% of an average yield might be seeing yields 30% to 35% of normal, Richer said.
Fulton County’s 2011 average yield for corn was 159.2 bushels per acre.
A yield of 35% of normal is about 56 bushels per acre, although he said he’d heard reports of 80 to 90 bushels per acre.
That’s for fields ranging from the southern Fulton County line on the south to St. Rt. 2 or the Ohio Turnpike. Corn yields north of that line are a little better he said.
But just like summer rains, the results are scattered.
“I’ve heard farmers talk. They look at their yield monitors (in their combines) and they’re seeing zero up to 240 bushels to the acre,” he said.
Soybeans, which were able to take advantage of later summer rains, are returning yields that are about average.
In 2011, Fulton County’s average soybean yield was 48 bushels per acre.
“Beans are running about 90% of average, about 40 to 50 bushels to the acre, from what I hear from the co-ops, elevators, and producers,” he said.
Last week provided one good day for harvesting. Most days featured overcast skies, cool temperatures and high humidity.
Thursday, Oct. 4, gave farmers a window for harvesting, but rain followed on Friday.
This week, weather reports call for 2 to 2 1/2 good harvest days with sunny skies and breezes.
Ideally, farmers harvest soybeans when the beans have 13.5% moisture content. For corn the moisture figure is 15%.
When grain is harvested at higher moisture contents, it must be dried, either on the farm or at the elevator. Elevators charge farmers for drying costs.
Richer said the corn harvest is running from 20% to 24% moisture, but not more than 24%.
About 2 1/2 weeks ago, Richer said farmers became concerned drought-damaged corn stalks wouldn’t be able to hold their ears up, and a slight wind could cause ears to drop to the ground.
“Ear drop, we call it,” he said.
Because combines can’t pick ears up off the ground, some farmers started their harvest a little early.
Now, he said, ear drop seems to be slightly less of a problem.
For some farmers, the soybean harvest is being held up because there are still some green leaves and green material on the stem.
With the drought ravaging predicted yields, prices for commodities increased.
Now that the harvest has started, “We’re not looking at $17 (per bushel) beans and $8 corn,” but, Richer added, “the bottom has not dropped out.”
The cash price for corn is $7.40 to $7.50 per bushel, while farmers are getting $15.20 to $15.30 per bushel for soybeans.”
Those, he said, “are really strong commodity prices, especially during harvest.”
With harvest underway in Fulton County, motorists need to remember they are sharing the road with farm equipment.
“Our farmer-producers do their best to get off the side of the road,” he said.
But, sometimes things like utility poles, road signs, and mailboxes can prevent them from pulling over.
Richer asked drivers to have patience and “give farmers time to get over.”
Farm equipment is often on the road after dark.
“Drivers need to be cautious when approaching farm equipment from either direction, front or rear,” he said.
Also, Richer cautioned drivers about deer.
“Corn makes excellent cover for deer. With the corn coming off, the deer are on the move,” he said.
“And deer are nocturnal. They’ll be crossing the road after dark.
“October and November are the highest months for deer-vehicle collisions.”