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U.S. Corn Yields Are Rolling In

Farmers say the crops are mostly not as bountiful as a year ago.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- This is the time of the year when market watchers pin their ears to the ground waiting to hear what combines’ yield monitors are reading in the corn and soybean fields.

Farmers in the southern Corn Belt are rocking and rolling. Yet, the yields are coming in 40 to 50 bushels off last year.

Kansas City Harvest4
Picking corn, this week, near Metz, Missouri

Mark Hobrock, Western Grain Marketing general manager, says that farmers in his area, along the Illinois River of west-central Illinois, can’t wait to have 2019 in their rearview mirrors.

“I’m ready to get the 2019 season behind us. Let’s look forward to 2020,” Hobrock says. “This has been an unprecedented growing season. Last fall, we had trouble getting ammonia applied. We have a lot of corn that wasn’t planted until after June 1, and we had big-time floods with the Illinois River staying above flood stage for over 120 days. The growing season started extremely wet, but between June 20 and early August only .25 inch of rain fell in central and west-central Illinois. August was cool. These yields are really showing the roller-coaster ride this crop went on this year,” Hobrock says.

Yield Reports

In west-central Illinois, corn yields are coming in anywhere from 130 bushels per acre (bu/acre) to 260 bu/acre, Hobrock says.

“The story in Illinois is that we are down from last year, but we’re not this year’s worst spot in the Corn Belt," Hobrock says.

“Most generally, a lot of the corn harvested is running in the 190-bushel-per-acre range. That equates to 40 to 50 bushels off of the last three years,” Hobrock says.

“From Chapin to Lincoln, Illinois, is expected to have the best corn crop this year. That corn was planted around May 10 and wasn’t as wet as other areas of the state.

“Next week, we will have a better data set, but we are hearing more poor yields than good ones,” he says.

Though Hobrock’s area of Illinois may have lower yields, eastern and northern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio farmers could be facing even weaker corn yields, he says.

Other Yield Reports

Corn yield reports shared from multiple sources are mostly lower than last year.

  • Metz, Missouri- 190 bu/acre, with no comparison vs. a year ago
  • Stark County, Illinois- 225 bu/acre vs. 240 a year ago
  • Macon County, Illinois- 214 bu/acre vs. 257 a year ago
  • Jefferson County, Illinois- 220 bu/acre vs. 200 a year ago
  • Marshall County, Illinois - 200 bu/acre vs. 250 a year ago
  • Decatur, Illinois - 170 bu/acre vs. 241 a year ago
  • Assumption, Illinois- 140 bu/acre vs. 210 a year ago
  • Holland, Indiana - 115 bu/acre vs. an Actual Production History of 215
  • Southwest Indiana- 131 bu/acre vs. 207 a year ago
  • Central Ohio - 155 bu/acre vs. 220 a year ago

KC Corn Harvest1
Corn harvested, this week, near Kansas City, Missouri.

Hobrock admits that the poor yields are the ones often reported vs. the good yields.

“Are we hearing about yields from corn that farmers deem as their driest crop and yields will pick back up? I’m cautiously optimistic. Is this year worse than we thought it was? I don’t think we have a big enough data set for a conclusive answer. But that’s the direction the early yields are pointing to right now,” says Hobrock.

Rain Coming

With a rainstorm set to hit Sunday through Tuesday of next week, Hobrock says some farmers will be stopped harvesting corn.

“We need to get these guys going. We’re two weeks behind, as far as harvest pace. We could be a lot like Iowa, this year, in that we will cut a lot of beans before we get a big run of corn,” Hobrock says.

Grain Marketing

This year, corn basis is still historically attractive. “We’re 10¢ to 15¢ better on basis than normal. In the Illinois and central Illinois market, farmers are expected to sell corn and store soybeans this year,” he says.

“Up until last fall, farmers normally would sell the harvested soybeans and store corn. With good corn basis levels, that mind-set has changed. Farmers are selling corn, freeing up cash, and storing beans while waiting for a trade war resolution and hopefully more demand. And, South American farmers are not willing to relinquish the last 20% of their supply of soybeans. So, China is coming back to the U.S. to buy beans,” says Harbrock.

Soybean Harvest

Gary Smith, TGM grain elevator manager in Lovington, Illinois, has been receiving harvested crops this week, with 25% moisture level on corn and 11.2% to 13.5% moisture level on soybeans.

“I haven’t heard any yields on corn. For soybeans harvested east of Lovington, Illinois, the quality is looking pretty good with yields at 60 bu/acre,” Smith says. “These are no-till beans that I expected to yield at the level that they are coming in.

“However, we do have some beans that aren’t as tall as usual, but hopefully they are going to have some more pods on them,” he says.

Smith says that the crops near Decautur did receive rains when they needed them this year.

Farmers near Decautur are about three weeks behind with harvest. And, Smith believes, the upcoming rains could add another two-week delay before harvest activity will hit full speed.

Other soybean yields shared this week come from west-central Iowa. One farmer recorded 76 bu/acre vs. 72 last year. Meanwhile, a west-central Indiana farmer cut soybeans yielding 59 bu/acre vs. 76 bu/acre a year ago.

Not Going Yet

As of this week, Dan DeSutter, a west-central Indiana farmer, says that his corn (planted in the first week of June) is not ready to be picked.

“It should hit black layer this week. Not all of it, but the first of the crop should. So, no, we’re not harvesting yet,” DeSutter says.

The yield reports coming in from farmers south of DeSutter’s Indiana location are 40 to 60 bushels off of last year, he says.

“That’s what I’m hearing, so far,” DeSutter says.

Justin Barnes, a corn and soybean farmer south of Columbus, Ohio, is two weeks away from harvesting crops.

“I can’t wait to get this season behind us. I thought the fall prices would be higher than they are. So, not excited about selling anything at harvest,” Barnes says. He adds, “The local basis is still strong, with not much crop out of the field yet.”

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