Corn optimism in northern Iowa

  • 01

    It's been probably "the most variable crop" Craig Petersen has ever seen on his farm in Bremer County, Iowa. He says he's seen everything from 25-bushel to 200-bushel corn this fall.

  • 02

    Many early returns came in ranging between 115 and 120 bushels/acre on Petersen's farm, but by Wednesday, October 10, he was "getting into some better stuff. Quality is good. We have good test weights, and the corn's dry," he says.

  • 03

    Petersen attributes the relative strength of his farm's yields to a few timely rains and his heavier soils. "The rains helped cool the canopy down at night and helped during the 100-degree days, which helped more than anything during pollination. These ears filled out pretty well," he says.

  • 04

    Dave Kirchhoff farms down the road from Petersen near Tripoli, Iowa. He says his soybean yields were "a little better than expected," and on his stronger soils, corn yields have been good. "It just depends on your soil types," he says. "On poorer soils, they really drop off fast."

  • 05

    Kirchhoff says his farm didn't get any rain in July, but had rain on August 9. "It gave us a little kernel depth and test weight, but still, yields are a little off altogether," he says.

  • 06

    The Corn Suitability Rating (CSR) of Kirchhoff's fields is in the mid- to high-80s, with "very good depth of topsoil," he says. Between that and being fully tiled, he feels he avoided more of a yield penalty from this year's moisture shortfall.

  • 07

    Overall, Kirchhoff says his farm's anywhere from 17 to 20 inches short of normal moisture. That's affected his grain marketing strategy. "We're pretty much holding off on any more sales, especially since we don't know what the year's going to bring for rainfall going into 2013," he says.

  • 08

    Still, Kirschhoff has forwarded-contracted some corn for the 2013 crop year, but has held off on any more 2012 sales. "I'm still pretty bullish corn given the ending stocks numbers we've seen," he says.

  • 09

    Petersen says he's still fairly bullish on the corn market moving forward. "We've got some forward-contracted, but we're going to improve on this market going forward," he says. "There's a sense of bullishness around the countryside, even on soybeans yet."

  • 10

    Still, the drought is not far from these farmers' minds. "We need to get some moisture before the ground freezes up, because once the ground freezes up, you might as well wait until spring," Kirschhoff says.

Farmers report variable, but better-than-expected, corn yields in the northern part of Iowa.

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