Spring 2013 Logan County Farm Outlook
2012 in review
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[March 25, 2013]
It's no surprise. The highlight
reel from 2012 would include dry weather, heat, and more dry weather
and heat. Of course the winter months weren't bad -- comparatively
dry with decent temperatures (translated, this means dry with heat).
Corn yields for the 2012 season suffered proportionately, with the
Logan County yield placed at 96.5 bushels per acre, according to the
county yield estimates published by the National Agricultural
To compare with other drought years in modern production times, we
ended up similar to the 1983 yield of 96. The 1988 year saw the
average production plummet to 71, and the drought of 1980 placed
corn yields at 75.
The 2012 crop brings our new 10-year average down to 169.1
bushels per acre. Of course, times have changed. Hybrids have
improved, production practices have evolved further, and the value
of the crop and cost of the inputs have greatly increased.
Soybean yields from 2012 achieved a respectable average of 47.3
bushels per acre. We were saved by a late-season hurricane named
Isaac that brought much-needed rainfall to our region. Otherwise,
soybean yields would have been closer to 30 for an average.
The new 10-year average soybean yield is 51.3 bushels per acre
for Logan County. Other stressful production years saw an average of
41 bushels in 2003, 40 in 1987, 38.5 in 1984 and 36 in 1983. The
resilience of soybeans is definitely seen in the yields.
The weather of 2012 was definitely irregular. We were considered
to be in an extreme drought area for most of the year, but it rained
regularly somewhere in the area. Most areas didn't receive the
rainfall in large enough quantities, or at the critical times.
Of greater influence on yields was the heat. Lincoln recorded six
days over 100 degrees, while Springfield had 11. The timing of the
intense heat was during pollination or early development of kernels,
which led to abortion of kernels as the summer went on. The plants
simply couldn't take up enough moisture to keep both the plant and
the kernels alive.
Corn yields ranged widely, from zero to field averages in the 170
range. Most yields fell somewhere in between those figures, as
evidenced by the county average.
A new census of agriculture is in the final stages of data
collection. This will mean new figures will be available sometime
next year for number of farms, income, livestock numbers, crops
produced and specialty crops. Unfortunately, the yields of the
drought year will also be with us for a while since the census is
done every five years.
Crop input costs continue to be at moderately high to record-high
levels. Seed cost is one that continues to climb as more technology
is used to produce a genetically diverse seed supply. Seed corn
costs range from around $200 per bag to over $400. We no longer get
2.5-3 acres per bag either. The most common planting population --
plants or actually seeds per acre -- is now about 35,000. Soybean seed costs $30 to $45 per bag, and that is for less than
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Don't get me wrong -- the seed companies are earning it. Some of
the highest priced corn means the corn produces naturally occurring
proteins to kill insects, so insecticide isn't needed on those
Fertilizer prices have moderated somewhat but are still two to
five times higher than they were 10 years ago.
Crop prices have also remained historically high. Exports have
been lower. Reversing a recent trend, livestock feed use has been
higher. Use to produce fuel as ethanol or soy oil has also been
increasing in recent years.
Lower yields and continued high use have given us higher
commodity prices. Livestock prices have remained high, but so have
the feed costs. This has led to livestock producers working for
little or nothing in many species.
What's ahead for the coming year? One never knows, but the
drought trend seems to be breaking. Better moisture through the
winter has put us in better shape going into the planting season.
Now, if we can get away from the extreme heat of last year, we may
return to the larger yields to which our area is accustomed.
University of Illinois Extension]