Map the Proof

November 12, 2011 06:22 AM

AgWeb Harvest Map confirms irregularity in growing season

In a year of perpetual problems for U.S. crops, this fall’s harvest has been an interesting one to watch.

According to the AgWeb Harvest Map, which shows farmer-reported harvest data from across the nation, corn yields were not surprisingly low. As harvest moved into longer-season hybrids, yields increased.

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By late September, average corn yields reported to AgWeb by farmers averaged 137 bu. to 139 bu. per acre. The first nationwide results announced by AgWeb on Oct. 11 showed an average yield of 143.30 bu. per acre, which held fairly steady for two weeks. On Oct. 24, the U.S. average yield of farmer-reported data was 145.36 bu. per acre.

The monthly USDA Crop Production report released on Oct. 12 pegged national average corn yield at 148.1 bu. per acre. If realized, this will produce a total corn crop of 12.432 billion bushels from 83.936 million acres. The AgWeb yield numbers on Oct. 24 would produce a total crop of 12.201 billion bushels from the same acreage. With harvest still under way in late October, the final results remain to be seen.

Farmer perspective. The increase in yields from later-harvested fields is not surprising to Morristown, Ind., farmer Ken Simpson.

Located 30 miles southeast of Indianapolis, Simpson says most farmers opened fields on drier ground early and saved the better fields for later. What he saw on the AgWeb Harvest Map matched his observations.

"I know from my own experience with late-planted corn, one field was 130 bu. and the other was
140 bu.," he says. "The locations we saw with lower yields were off gravelly ground. We planted it first and harvested it first."

Simpson’s planting season was interrupted by rain in May, which might result in another yield slip on the very late-season corn. He didn’t appreciate the rain then, but he’d gladly have taken the moisture in July and August. Corn planted on May 31 pollinated in high temperatures and dry conditions.

Side-by-side, one field planted May 12 yielded 173 bu. per acre and the other, planted May 31, produced a meager 129 bu. per acre. "Somewhere, we lost 40 bu. to 50 bu. per acre," he says.
In soybeans, Simpson isn’t seeing variations with planting dates. He is, however, seeing stark differences in the quality of the ground.

"The good, black dirt came in around 46 bu. from farmers across the country. The gravelly ground came in around 19 bu.," he says.

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