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Is the Corn Crop Beyond Recovery?

July 14, 2012
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
7 9 12 IN ears of corn
An Evansville, Ind., planted this corn March 26. "We've had no significant rain since the first week of May. It has never been this dry this early."  

Many farmers across the Midwest are facing bleak corn yields. Market expert Jerry Gulke is one of them.


This year, it’s been hard to find farmers who are optimistic about this year’s corn crop. Read AgWeb Crop Comments, and you’ll read how corn hasn’t pollinated and yield are dropping as quick as temperatures are rising.

On Wednesday, USDA analysts chopped the projected corn yield to 146 bu./acre, down 20 bu. from earlier projections.

"USDA surprised even me," says Jerry Gulke, president of the Gulke Group. "I thought we would be looking at somewhere around 150 bu./acre, but they took an ax to it and dropped it 20 bushels per acre."

Weather, of course, is the driving factor behind the low yield expectations.

In the Corn Belt and Midwest, extremely dry conditions and near- to above-normal temperatures are maintaining severe stress on reproductive summer crops, according to USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility.

During the weekend and early next week, heat will persist on the Plains and intensify across much of the East and Midwest. Several days of 100-degree heat can be expected on the central Plains, and triple-digit readings may briefly return to the upper Midwest. During the next 5 days, little or no rain can be expected on the Plains and across the driest areas of the southern and eastern Corn Belt.

Gulke says the stressful weather has been causing crop condition trend to fall. "We aren’t to 1988 levels for crop conditions yet, but we’re headed that way. I’ve been watching my crop deteriorate from what I thought was a record crop four weeks ago, down to 40 bu./acre or zero."

The state of the corn crop is astonishing, Gulke says. Crops look good from the road, but upon further inspection the ears have little yield potential. "We’re not seeing a 10% reduction, it’s more likely 40% to 50% reduction in some places."

Gulke says there are some people he trusts that are expecting around 130 bu./acre. "You plug that into the supply and demand equation, and that’s not just a problem – it’s a catastrophic event for our end users, livestock, ethanol and exports."

Drought Destroys Demand

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