It's been a long growing season. Some places planted early. Some places planted late. Some places didn't plant at all. Some places got too much rain. Some places didn't get enough rain. Some places got rainfall described as darn near perfectly timed.
So the bottom line is even with regional issues, overall we grew a whale of a corn crop and an elephant of a soybean crop. (I didn't want to use the whale analogy twice in the same sentence so I improvised. Much like farmers have to do every year. But I digress.)
Let's start with some good news. Mark Nowak who farms in south-central Minnesota said yields on his farm came in so good they seem to have come from McClean County, Illinois, not near Wells, Minnesota.
" ... our whole farm yield for soybeans was 71 bushels per acre and for corn 240 bushels per acre," he wrote. "These are record yields for Nowak Farms by about 10%.
"The factoid I like to talk about is seed cost. I planted an entire farm to what I call seed from a secondary company with a central Midwest growing reputation. That seed cost per acre was $40 per acre less than seed from one of the top three. But the yield was 10 bushel better than whole farm average and it was my top yielding field. With extreme pressure to lower cost of production, my advice is to carefully look at all seed company opportunities. In our case, $40 per acre less seed cost and nearly $40 more revenue from the bushels, is a big deal in this day of tight and in many cases, negative margins.
"We went through the entire harvest from start to finish without a drop of rain. Then we got 0.7 inch that enhanced tillage. This week Tuesday we got all our fall anhydrous on and 12 hours later it started to rain with a temperature below 50 degrees and ended up with 1.8 inches to nicely soak and seal the soil for the winter.
"So a great finish after a near perfect growing season sets us up well for the spring '16 start. All we need then is some type of spring/summer market rally to lock in profitable prices on the '16 crop. We are very satisfied with our forward contracting and hedging on the '15 crop so as to have a good year financially.
"Much to be thankful for as we approach the national day of Thanksgiving."
Batey Farms in Tennessee also saw a very good year. "Middle Tennessee corn yields finished around 200 for us," wrote Brandon Whitt. "And 55 on soybeans. Not typical for us by far! 145/40 average historically."
On the other end of the spectrum, Crawford McFetridge, who farms in the Finger Lakes area of New York, sent us this update on harvest in his area. I will say, Crawford writes some of the gloomiest observations in the sunniest way!
"Well we are mostly done with beans. There are still some around. There hasn't been a real good killing frost. The corn, I would say, is about 70% done. Even with no good killing frost corn dried down fast this year. Most corn now is 16% to 20% and falling. Yields on corn and beans are all over. A lot depends how much rain you had early and if it flooded out the fields.
"Beans seemed to be better than average. Corn, there were a lot of ugly fields. ... To the point of being able to see where the tile lines were. The late-planted corn did better. This is the second year in a row that June 1 planted corn did better than the first of May corn.
"Now if grain (prices) will come up so it would be profitable, that should save most farms. Because this year everyone got diarrhea with the planters and flooded the market again. I don't think that will happen in 2016. Most will be running out of money and will have to cut back on how much they grow. Also there is no bidding for acres or looks like any to come.
"I might be wrong! So for all you wild-eyed Earl Butts followers -- plant it hedgerow to hedgerow. All you growers out there, have a big Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. For some, this will be their last year where they are now."
Jeff Littrell looks at this growing season and the next with a bit of optimism. Things weren't great, but "we live to fight another day," he wrote.
"I'm in Minnesota and corn yields varied from 20 bushels per acre to 288 bpa; average of 88 bpa; late planted and heavy June rain really hurt. ... organic ... barely made 20 bpa. So this is why we have crop insurance.
"Buckwheat is running 37 BPA and soybean averaged 61 BPA and winter eye grain 79 BPA."
Sometimes the yield numbers have to be considered with a little perspective. In southeastern Indiana, Gerald Gauck farms near Milan. "Our yields are not that high this year," he wrote, "but good for the conditions we had. Corn 171; soybeans 63.5. In Ripley County."
In North Dakota, David Kjelstrup sent a brief note: "I'm still combining an average crop of corn. Our wheat had some disease in it."
And, just a side note, USDA released U.S. reported planted acreage totals Friday, including failed acres, as of Nov. 1, 85,033,309 acres of corn and 81,276,633 acres of soybeans.
A few of my correspondents considered their yield data proprietary information and I can respect that. I still enjoy hearing from them about what's going on in their areas. If you'd like to join our email group, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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