One south-central Indiana farmer caught me off-guard when I visited his farm recently and he said he had already harvested 150- bushel corn and 60-bushel soybeans. His county was supposedly one of the hardest hit by the heat and drought and late planting, all experienced during this past season.
"Wait a minute," he said. "You've got to understand that this could likely be the best yields we have. It could be downhill from here. What we have harvested was on bottom ground that is not particularly well-drained. Even though it floods sometimes, we were able to get it planted in a decent fashion this year."
Much of the ground he farms is rolling, some very steep, some with limiting layers and other issues. He hasn't been into those fields yet because they were planted later and weren't mature yet.
Here's another comparison worth noting. "The field that made 150 bushels per acre, a good yield for this year that tickled us very much, made 199 bushels per acre in the past one year," he says. "So based on that and what I've seen of our other fields just looking at them, I'd see we've got two-thirds to three-fourths of a normal crop."
Not that he's knocking on 60-bushel per acre soybeans. That's the highest yield reported here so far. There are some fifties, but also some in the teens, twenties and gobs in the thirties and low-forties. If Indiana soybean yields are going to beat what's predicted so far by USDA, it's going to have to come from areas that received more rain.Chris Hurt, the Purdue Extension ag economist, is expecting wide variation in yields across the state this year. He's not surprised if he hears stories like this one. In the end, though, he believes USDA may be about right after downgrading estimates in September from August. If so, Indiana corn yield will be well below trend yield. Nationally, the crop will be at or near trend yield if current predictions hold.