Corn is king . . . and beans ain’t bad this harvest
To the untrained eye, the tall corn and full-leafed soybeans look like a possible record crop for farmers in Northwest Indiana and nearby Illinois, and they might be.
The record yields predicted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in August for corn kings Iowa and Illinois have been adjusted down, as have those for Indiana.
But prices are high.
“Indiana corn prices received may be about $4.60 a bushel this year, and that would be a record high, breaking (the previous high of) $4.39 per bushel,” said Chris Hurt, agricultural economist with Purdue University.
Soybeans will probably come in around $10 a bushel on average, just below the record of $10.20 a bushel for Indiana.
Yields are coming in a bit below the revised projections. But no matter the exact results, it was a good year to be a grain farmer.
Purdue University Extension corn specialist Bob Nielsen, professor of agronomy, said weather conditions allowed corn to dry well in the field, so farmers should spend less money on mechanized drying. Also, he said quality is high due to fewer disease problems.
Hurt said the USDA’s September report forecasts Indiana corn yields at 170 bushels an acre, down from the August prediction of 176 bushels an acre. The record yield statewide was last year’s take of 171 bushels an acre, while Northwest Indiana’s record yield was 174 bushels an acre in 2008. The USDA predicted a record 175 bushels an acre in Northwest Indiana for this harvest.
But Hurt also said he thinks the predicted state yields will be reduced by three bushels an acre.
Soybean yields are forecast to reach 50 bushels per acre, which would tie this year with 2006 for the second-highest yield for the state. Only 2004 was higher with 51.5 bushels an acre.
The hot, dry conditions in August may adjust those forecasts downward a bit.
Kurt Line, who farms in Lake Village and nearby Momence, Ill., is cautious.
“I don’t think the market believes it’s a record crop,” Line said. “It’s a demand-led market. The U.S. demand is higher than U.S. supply.”
The earnings grain farmers will haul in will remain unknown until they pull away from the grain elevator, and, perhaps, not even then.
Commodity markets, mutual funds and global economies all affect grain prices, so when to sell becomes of primary importance. Hurt said rebounding economies abroad, the dollar’s wavering value and politics all play into the market volatility.
Eagle Creek Township farmer Susie Hayden said it’s a tough call.
“It’s such a volatile market,” she said. “Prices just don’t go up like this in the midst of harvest.”