Predicted low corn yield in Sandusky Co.
By Becky Brooks
The drought has hit the 2012 corn crop throughout North Central Ohio pretty hard but area agents have hopes that recent rains could still save the soybeans.
Ag officials, though, predict the harvest will be early this year and final losses will depend on how much rain keeps coming into September.
Todd Warner, executive director of the Sandusky County Farm Services Agency, said the county Ag emergency board met at the end of July.
“Yes it is affecting Sandusky County,” he commented.
“First of all, through the end of July our rainfall was down… We were at 49 percent,” he said about the normal rainfall for the area from April 1 through July 30.
Sandusky County has normal rainfall for the first quarter of the year.
“At this point, we put in a 30 percent loss on corn, and that may be conservative,” he added about estimates by the emergency board. He added its expectations are a 20 percent loss on soybeans and 50 percent loss on hay.
“Our dollar loss just on those three crops is going to be just over $30 million,” Warner stated recently. The loss estimate is based on 2011 crop prices when corn in the region was selling for $6.40 a bushel.
The Sunrise Cooperative Clyde grain facility is currently paying nearly $8 a bushel for corn, Warner pointed out, noting the loss in crops due to drought may be far higher.
He added the Ag emergency board only took three main crops into account.
In a typical year there are 68,484 acres of corn in Sandusky County with an average yield of 159 bushels per acre. Using those figures — the corn loss could be $21 million alone based on last year’s grain price, he said.
“Nobody really knows; we are just trying at this point to come up with our best guess,” Warner added.
Soybeans in the county average 44 bushels per acre, he added.
“We believe the highest potential yield for soybeans has passed us,” he said in late August.
Warner also predicted that wheat also would be down — but not because of drought — but instead the very wet fall in 2011 the area saw.
Sandusky and Seneca County Ag Extension Agent Mark Koenig said, “There was a discussion in Seneca.
“They are running pretty close to what we are thinking in Sandusky County.”
“Their conditions are just a little dryer than what we are here,” he added.
Koenig said the final outcome on corn will depend when farmers were able to get it into the fields and if it can benefit from the mid-August rains in the region.
“We’ve just had these really nice rains. The beans seem to shoot again,” he said.
Koenig said that producers with whom he has talked to have seen ears short or filling in the middle and not on the ends.
“It was really hot when they were supposed to fill,” he added about July’s record heat of 100-degree days.
The ears may look good on the stalks but when it is husked down, he warned, they have not filled in.
Another factor playing into the final loss of crops in the two counties will be the soil types, he added.
Sandusky County Farm Bureau president Scott Chalfin lives in the far southwest corner of Sandusky County in Scott Township near the Wood and Seneca county borders.
“From a soybean standpoint, I’m not sure the drought will affect us a lot,” he said. From his perspective, he said could be down 20–25 percent.
Chalfin said that he sees the average production of corn to be closer to 170 bushels an acre — higher than what the Ag emergency board projected.
“Our goal as producers is to produce 200 plus bushels per acre,” he added.
The future of the corn crop is already written, he added.
“Soybeans — you got two, three weeks,” Chalfin said about them being ready by sometime in early September.
The Farm Bureau president said that from what he has heard in Wood County — the situation is about the same as in Sandusky County. Chalfin works in agronomy for Sunrise Cooperative, he noted.
For Erie and Huron counties, the farm service agencies have a combined office in Norwalk where Diane Strouse is the director.
“On July 3, they said we are blessed; we are going to be good,” she shared about the outlook for crops in her two counties.
“July changed everything and now a 30 to 40 percent loss in corn is being predicted,” she added.
Strouse said the rain has not been consistent in the two counties so the percentage of loss will vary by farm and field.
She commented, however, the losses in the two North Central counties will not be as bad as other sections of Ohio.
Becky Brooks is the managing editor of The Bellevue Gazette & OCM Lake Erie Central Division.