Corn crop looking good despite some impacts from weather, experts sayIndustry official expects to see average yield of 135 in South Dakota.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
Much of the corn across South Dakota is looking good for this harvest season, experts say, despite extreme weather throughout planting and growth.
The season began wet, with flooding in many areas. Summer temperatures in the high 90s and into the 100s helped dry out most fields.
The temperatures also helped crops catch up to where they should be, said Lisa Richardson, executive director of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association.
“The corn crop looks better than the nation’s,” she said. “Harvest should be right on schedule at the end of September or first part of October.”
According to numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Services, 52 percent of South Dakota’s corn condition was rated as good at the end of the first week in September. That is 11 percentage points above the national average.
Nationally, production of corn has fluctuated in the last few years. There was a high of 93.5 million acres planted in 2007, but the acres declined by 5 million to 7 million acres between 2008 and 2010. This year’s acreage is back up to 92 million, with an estimated average of 152 bushels per acre.
Richardson said the average bushels per acre in South Dakota was 125 in 2010 and 135 in 2009. This year, she estimates the state’s crop to produce an average of 135 bushels per acre.
“We are set to have a very good crop,” she said.
The weather continues to impact the price of corn, but the export factor also comes into play, Richardson said.
Currently, Indiana, Iowa and Illinois drive the market, she added.
“Corn is ready to set historic highs,” she said. “This is unprecedented to have high yields and high prices at the same time.”
The Chicago price for corn was at $7.50 a bushel as of this writing. Richardson said South Dakota farmers will likely see about $7 a bushel.
As other countries have a high demand for high protein food, South Dakota may be expanding its corn exports. There is currently discussion of China entering the market.
“The world is very hungry,” Richardson said. “In the past, we’ve exported 2 billion bushels of corn, and it’ll be constant for the next 20 years.”
Corn isn’t only going to feed people around the world. Some farmers are selling their crops to feed the future of renewable energy.
Gene Stehly and his wife Denise, and his brother Craig and wife Jane, mostly farm corn outside Mitchell, all of which goes to the Poet Biorefining ethanol plant. Stehly said the harvest will be a mixed bag this year.
His, like many operations this year, faced numerous water issues early in the season. He had spots that drowned out and had to be replanted. Once the corn overcame the heavily saturated soil, the high temperatures made the soil too dry, he said.
“We might have some issues with kernel fill,” he said. “That remains to be seen.”
The Stehlys have seen improvements in corn yield over the last 10 years. Their crops 10 years ago would be deemed poor today, Stehly said.
While this year’s production is uncertain at this point, Stehly said he believes the ethanol industry will remain strong.
“Ethanol is a huge factor in the prosperity of rural America,” he said. “We need to fight to keep it as a part of our energy supply, because it’s not in the interest of the country to rely on foreign oil.”