DES MOINES — Harvest is in full swing across the country, and farmers in many states are surprised at the abundance of corn they’re getting from their fields.
Dairy farmer Ben Steffen, who also grows corn, soybeans and wheat on 1,900 acres near the southeastern Nebraska town of Humboldt, said his first corn field brought in 168 bushels an acre, above the average of 140.
“I’m surprised that what I’m hearing from my neighbors there are some really outstanding yields,” he said. “I don’t know if I would consider it a record crop at this point, but the numbers I’m hearing are going to be right up there.”
The best crops in the U.S. are in areas that received adequate rain combined with cooler temperatures at the time corn pollinated, a welcome sight after last year’s dismal harvest due to the drought withering corn and soybean fields and burning up pastures. Record harvests are likely this year in many states, including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Ohio.
All that corn will help refill bins that had been emptied after last year’s drought-reduced harvest of 10.7 billion bushels, the lowest since 2006, said Chad Hart, an agriculture economist with Iowa State University.
“We now know how good it can get and how bad it can get in just two years,” said Jerry Gulke, who farms near Rockford, Ill., and runs a farm management and market advisory business based in Chicago. Gulke says this harvest, when finished, will be the best he’s ever had: More than 200 bushels per acre, twice last year’s result.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated the 2013 corn harvest at 13.8 billion bushels, beating the 2009 record of 13.1 billion bushels. Updated harvest estimates were to be released Friday, but the partial federal government shutdown has caused the USDA to suspend reports.