Drought that continues to grip a wider area of Iowa into mid-September has prompted USDA to lower its yield projections for the state's 2013 corn and soybean crops.
In its September crop production report, released Sept. 12 and based on crop conditions as of the first of the month, USDA says Iowa farmers are projected to harvest 405.5 million bushels of soybeans this year, down 8.36 million bushels or 2% below last year. USDA reduced its yield estimate to 43 bushels per acre, down 3 bushels per acre from the August report.
Iowa's state average corn yield estimate for 2013 was reduced one bushel per acre, to 162 bushels per acre in the September report. Even so, Iowa's total production of corn is expected to be 2.187 million bushels, up 310 million bushels from last year's harvest.
Drought area in Iowa classified as "severe" stretches mostly across central and southern part of the state
"Most of Iowa is suffering this year as abnormally dry conditions are taking their toll," says Harry Hillaker, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Two-fifths of the state is now in a severe drought, mostly across central and southern Iowa, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed on Thursday September 12. The government's drought monitor map is updated every Thursday. A week ago, about a third of the state was in the "severe drought" category.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Last year, also a drought year, Iowa ended up with a state average corn yield of only 137 bushels per acre. Does Hillaker think USDA's prediction of 162 bushels per acre for 2013 is too high? "Keep in mind last year's crop was planted early," says Hillaker. "This year's planting was delayed by a record wet spring. Planting stretched over a two month period from late April to late June for corn. That's a lot of variability. Much of Iowa's crop is late maturing this year, so a lot is riding on when the first killing frost occurs."
USDA's latest yield estimates for Iowa's 2013 corn and bean crops are still probably too high
All things considered, Hillaker believes the September estimate of 162 bushels per acre for Iowa's 2013 yield average is probably too high. Hillaker was the morning speaker for farmers who with their wives were attending the 2013 Iowa Master Farm Homemaker Awards Day on September 13 in Des Moines, sponsored by Wallaces Farmer magazine. Roger Poppen, who drove from Iowa's northwest corner down to Des Moines saw soybean fields that were green, saw some that were yellow and a few that had already lost most of their leaves. He saw one field of soybeans being harvested near Ogden in west central Iowa.
Don Ahrens, near Osage in northeast Iowa near the Minnesota border, says "we have so much variability in maturity in Iowa this year. We have a lot of green fields in north central and northeast Iowa due to the late planting. If we get a frost fairly soon, that will certainly hurt our yields, especially on beans."
There will be some 200 bushel corn this year, and there will be some fields that yield real low
Cindy Schneckloth, from Eldridge in eastern Iowa near Davenport, said her husband started harvesting corn on September 12 and the field was averaging around 200 bushels per acre at 23% moisture content. But it's been dry there too, and she says corn on the lighter ground will yield less. Meanwhile, Orlin Steinkamp, at Wall Lake in western Iowa, where it's been extremely dry most of the summer, says "corn on the good ground in our area will yield fairly decent, perhaps 150 bushel per acre. But corn on light ground is already burned up. It'll make nothing. If we could get rain in the next few days that would certainly help soybeans."~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Iowa's forecasted corn yield of 162 bushels per acre for 2013 is 25 bushels per acre above last year. If realized, this would be the second lowest yield since 2004. Production, forecast at 2.19 billion bushels for Iowa, is up 17% from 2012.
Northwest Iowa is forecast to have the highest average corn yield in the state in 2013
The September forecast for 2013 corn yield is up from 2012 in all crop reporting districts in Iowa. South Central Iowa shows the largest increase from last year at 57%. Central Iowa is showing the smallest increase in yield, but is still 7% above last year. Northwest Iowa is forecast to have the highest yield in the state, with 175 bushels per acre.
For Iowa's soybean crop, the September forecast of 43 bushels per acre is down 3 bushels from the August forecast and down 1.5 bushels from 2012. If realized, the production of 405 million bushels would be the lowest since 2003.
Iowa's soybean yield this year is expected to be below 2012 in six of the nine crop reporting districts
Iowa's soybean yield is forecast to be below 2012 in six of the state's nine crop reporting districts. It's forecast to be above last year in West Central, Southwest and South Central Iowa. North Central Iowa is showing the largest drop in yield from 2012 at 13% while West Central Iowa shows the largest increase from last year at 7% more bushels per acre.
USDA's September 12 Crop Report forecasts that the U.S. corn harvest this year will hit a record 13.8 billion bushels, 80 million bushels more than USDA forecast in August. For soybeans, USDA's September estimate is down 106 million bushels to 3.149 billion bushels because of worsening crop conditions in parts of the western Corn Belt. Still, this year's projected U.S. soybean crop would be the fourth largest on record, says USDA.
REMINDER: USDA's monthly crop production and yield forecasts are based on conditions as of the first of the month and do not reflect weather effects since that time. The next district corn and soybean production forecasts for Iowa, based on conditions as of October 1, will be released on October 11, 2013.