August heat has accelerated corn and soybean harvests in Fulton County, with both faring well for the season.
Corn for grain is being harvested a couple weeks early, and some early soybeans are being brought in despite a normal harvest period that begins up to a month away, according to Eric Richer, OSU Extension educator.
“A lot of that has to do with that accelerated growth in August caused by the hot weather,” he said. “We got a lot of growing degree units (GDU) very intensely in August,” as well as sunny, dry weather through September. “Our harvest, in my opinion, is going to occur earlier than normal.”
And while corn will do better, with above-average yields, soybeans were socked by the relentless August heat, removing some of the top-end yield, Richer said.
Judging from the outcome, local corn crops will produce about 10 to 15 bushels more than Fulton County’s five-year average of 176 bushels per acre. While corn harvest usually begins in October, all of corn silage has been harvested. Farmers will harvest corn for grain into this week.
Soybeans, which also suffered some damage from heavy rainfall in July, will result in average or slightly-above yields based on a county five-year average of 52.5 bushels per acre.
“Yield impacts for our soybeans, moreso than our corn,” Richer said. “The soybean yield was negatively impacted by all the rain in July.”
Despite three specific diseases that hit over half the county’s cornfields late in the season – tar spot, grey leaf spot, and northern corn leaf blight – the crops were already established enough to withstand the attacks, he said, adding, “Fortunately, those diseases came in late enough in the season that a limited amount of damage was done.”
One advantage of the early soybean harvest is that it provides a better planting opportunity for winter wheat, Richer said. “This provides a bit more of a cushion,” he said.
Between his mother’s property and his, Richard Snyder of Delta farms 550 acres of corn, beans, and wheat. He was pleasantly surprised to find one cornfield yielding about 188 bushels of corn per acre, but received bad news with the second field. It’s full of tar spot, a relatively new crop disease in the area. It has pushed down the yield in that space to about 110 to 120 bushels per acre.
“We’ve had more disease than we’ve ever had with the tar spot,” Snyder said. “I think this is the new thing that’s going to affect the bottom line for years to come.”
Still, Snyder is hoping the the yields between the two fields will average out. “That’s the farmer’s attitude, always optimistic,” he said. “It’s all in God’s control.”
And while the soybeans may not be the best he’s ever grown, “they look better than average.” He hopes to begin harvesting them this week.
Tadd Nicholson, executive director of the Ohio Corn and Soybean Association, called this year’s corn crop, which is averaging 193 bushels per acre, the biggest ever in the state. “We’re just in for an amazing crop right now,” he said.
He attributes the gain to ideal weather conditions throughout the season.
“We have good technology in our seed, we have good farmers, but all of those count on cooperation by the weather,” he said. “Early planting and timely rains are resulting in what we expect to be a very large crop for Ohio.”
Nicholson said smooth planting called for optimism right from the beginning. “We had good weather conditions, good soil temperatures to get us off to a really good start. But you always want to hold your breath. You never want to count your chickens until they hatch,” he added.
Farmers were especially concerned after last season’s quality issues due to vomitoxin occurring during the corn’s flowering process, Nicholson said.
He said one unusual aspect of this season will be the hike in corn prices, despite Ohio’s stellar output, he said. While the state had excellent conditions overall, other midwestern states suffered droughts and experienced poor yields, driving up costs.
“That combination doesn’t happen very often in a farming career, so this is a very special year,” Nicholson said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.