USDA expects 17% corn drop
JANESVILLE In Wisconsin, corn production is expected to be down 17 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In Rock County, production will be "variable," UW-Extension Agent Jim Stute said.
It will be a few weeks before the U.S. Department of Agriculture compiles and releases detailed data about this year's grain harvest. Results likely will show Rock County corn yields were all over the map, Stute said.
Local corn yields per acre were "between zero and 220 bushels per acre," he said. "It depends on where you were, if you got the rain or when you planted."
In Wisconsin and other Midwestern states, corn production is down by double-digit percentages. But Minnesota is one of the few states where this year's corn harvest has improved.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says most corn farmers saw their yield per acre decrease, mainly because of a persistent summer drought that devastated crops. For example, Wisconsin is expected to produce about 431 million bushels this year, down 17 percent from last year.
In some places of Rock County, corn died this summer from lack of rain. In other places, it thrived on timely but spotty rainfall, Stute said.
"It was highly variable," he said. "That's pretty much all I can say until I see the (USDA) numbers."
In some cases, the results might be surprising, Stute said.
On UW Extension test plots planted near Janesville, corn hybrids fared well this year, Stute said.
"Yields were down, but not down as much as what you would expect in a drought," Stute said. "Like a lot of people, I'm pretty surprised at how well the corn did."
In 2010, Rock County producers harvested 24.68 million bushels of corn, according to USDA data. The average yield was 174 bushels per acre that year, according to the data.
In 2011, the average dropped to 162 bushels per acre, according to USDA data. Total corn production in 2011 rose to 25.35 million bushels because Rock County producers planted more acres of corn, according to USDA data.
Statewide, the USDA's agricultural statistics service forecast a corn yield of 125 bushels per acre, down from 156 bushels per acre a year ago. If that forecast holds true, it would be Wisconsin's lowest yield since it produced 111 bushels per acre in 1996.
Wisconsin's soybean harvest is also expected to decline. The state is expected to produce about 66.3 million bushels this year, an 11 percent decrease.
Both trends mirror similar poor forecasts across the Midwest. With the exception of Minnesota, which received enough timely rain to help offset the effects of the drought, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan are all expected to produce less corn and soybeans.
Across the nation, corn production is expected to total 10.7 billion bushels, where one bushel weighs 56 pounds. The total harvest would mark a 13 percent decrease from last year's yield.
Soybean production won't be as challenged. The U.S. is expected to harvest 3 billion bushels of soybeans, a decrease of 4 percent. For soybeans, one bushel weighs 60 pounds.