‘It was a good year’: Area crops hold their own against averages


SALEM, Ohio – Despite a wet spring that made tillage and planting a real trick and a scorching, dry summer, many grain farmers across the region herald 2007 as one of their best years ever.
Prices and yields were both average to excellent, and farm attitudes reflect it.
“There was a lot of worry off and on all year long, but it was worth it,” said Tom Rohr, who farms near Canal Fulton in Stark County.
“The new year’s going to be a bit more interesting. But looking back, it was a good year, I’ll say that.”
Corn. A record number of entries – 4,932 – were submitted for the National Corn Growers Association yield contest. In addition, 24 of those entries recorded yields of 300 bushels or more per acre, despite national forecasts that called for only 150-bushel corn.
High yields, coupled with the largest corn crop planted since 1933, made 2007 a year for the record books.
Though no locals topped the yield contest list, figures show the crop fared well across the board.
At Rohr’s Stark County farm, corn averaged anywhere from 65 bushels to 240 bushels per acre, according to Tom Rohr. He credits the yields to getting the crop planted in late April before fields got too wet, but noted he had to replant about 35 washed-out acres and then dealt with dry conditions all summer long.
“Those rains everyone else got, they just missed us,” he said.
Rain showers were spotty and caused headaches, too, in Trumbull County. Jim Brown, who sells seed and farms near Bristolville, said his area went without rain for six or seven weeks this summer. When it did rain, showers were hit-and-miss for several of his fields.
“The neighbor would call and say it’s raining, and outside my place the sun was shining,” he said.
Brown says the year was pretty good overall, with his 350 acres of corn averaging 135 bushels per acre.
It was a welcome surprise, since Brown was only guessing several drought-stressed ‘pineappley’ fields would make 50 bushels per acre. Brown said he thinks triple-stack genetics “got us through the rough patches, because [those varieties] handle stress better.”
Ohio’s USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s most recent report, issued in early November, pegged total corn production in the Buckeye State at more than 541 million bushels, up 15 percent from last year, thanks in part to newer seed technologies and a push to plant more corn.
Growers are expected to harvest 3.6 million acres this fall and winter, up more than 650,000 acres from last year.
In Pennsylvania, production topped 116 million bushels, averaging 120 bushel per acre.
Soybeans. The switch to more corn came at the expense of Ohio’s soybean crop, which gave up 500,000 acres this year, according to USDA. Nationally, the soybean crop was down 19 percent from last year’s record high and expected to be at 2.59 billion bushels.
Tom Rohr admits his soybeans “looked really sorry for awhile” but ended up yielding 45-65 bushels per acre.
“Partway through they started looking fantastic, but then we had some trouble with lodging. That really took the edge off what our yields could’ve been,” Rohr said.
Jim Brown estimated his soybeans averaged 50 bushels per acre, but fully admitted some fields did better than others.
“Some fields were real bad. We planted some beans at 30 inches, but they just didn’t bush out. Others we planted later at 15-inch rows and drilled 7 inches, they were much better,” he said.
USDA forecast Ohio’s average soybean yield at 46 bushels per acre. Total state production was forecast at 190 million bushels, down 13 percent from a year ago. Harvested acreage as of Nov. 1 was forecast at 4.14 million acres.
Pennsylvania’s crop totaled 16.6 million bushels, averaging 40 bushels per acre.
All around. Corn, soybeans, wheat, oats and hay all performed well in Lawrence County, Pa., for farmer Jeff McConnell.
McConnell, who declined to give yield estimates for any crop, said all his crops ended up being “average or better than average.”
“We were really concerned at the end of June and into July for the lack of moisture,” he said, noting rainfall was almost nonexistent at his Volant-area farm until early August. “If we had another 2 inches of rain in July, we’d have been on top of the world.”
“Overall, things were better than we anticipated for the kind of weather we had.”
Wheat and oats. Tom Rohr said his wheat, which was hard-hit by the early spring freeze, averaged 80 bushels per acre, and “made some really nice straw.”
His situation was representative of most Ohio and Pennsylvania farmers who appear to have come through the growing season and harvest with good fortune.
Ohio farmers harvested 730,000 acres at an average 63 bushels per acre, roughly 20 bushels per acre higher than the national average.
In Pennsylvania, farmers harvested 155,000 acres at an average 58 bushels per acre.
The national crop totaled 1.5 billion bushels, with average yields at 42.2 bushels per acre.
The U.S. oats crop was nearly 91.6 million bushels.
Ohio farmers planted 75,000 acres and harvested only about 55,000 of those, according to USDA. Average production was 62 bushels per acre.
Pennsylvania farmers planted roughly 115,000 acres, harvested 80,000 acres, and averaged 56 bushels per acre.
Nationwide average was 60.9 bushels per acre.
(Reporter Andrea Zippay welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419 or by e-mail at azippay@farmanddairy.com.)


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