USDA Report Shows Decline in Crop Yield Projections

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Hoosier farmers will see a much smaller corn and soybean crop this year, the projections based on surveys with farmers. On Monday, the USDA released a new report on the number of corn and soybean acres farmers actually were able to plant this year following a wet spring which caused delays throughout the Midwest.

In Indiana, the department expects 4.9 million acres of corn, down from earlier projections of 5.4 million acres. The statewide corn yield estimate dropped by 23 bushels an acre in 2018 to 166 bushels this year.

In soybeans, the USDA pegs acreage at 5.1 million acres down from 5.5 million acres that were projected in March. Yield estimates put the statewide average at 50 bushels an acre, down 8.5 bushels.

In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick prior to the report's release, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler says the impact will be varied throughout the state.

"As you drive around the state, you see some areas that look pretty decent. They're delayed, there's no doubt, at least a month delayed; in some cases, even more than that," said Kettler. "There are areas of the state, I would say generally speaking, northeast Indiana that had a lot of prevent planted. Areas of southern Indiana that may have gotten crops planted had crops up and when we got those couple of weeks of heavy rain in June, then they got floods and they flooded crop that was already planted and really destroyed a lot of crop."

Kettler says the state hopes to have an idea of exactly how much prevented planting acreage there is in Indiana within a couple of weeks. Governor Eric Holcomb last month requested federal disaster assistance for 88 of Indiana's 92 counties due to losses caused by flooding and excessive rain.

Officials from the USDA and Purdue Extension gathered at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Monday to discuss the report and Greg Matli, Indiana state statistician for the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, said, "Nothing like 2019 has happened in our history before."

Indiana State Climatologist Beth Hall said the state is in "uncharted territories" regarding the corn crop. "This season there are still some questions and concerns about this crop that was planted so far into June. The risk of corn not maturing safely before that fall freeze involves the date of the expected freeze but also depends on how warm or cool September is going to be."

Shaun Casteel, associate professor of agronomy at Purdue University, said September will be critical for soybeans, which typically mature later than corn but also saw a late planting season.

The USDA surveyed farmers for a second time in 13 of the biggest corn growing states and 14 of the biggest soybean growing states in an attempt to get a more accurate projection of the actual crop size. Nationally, the department put corn production at 13.9 billion bushels, down four percent from 2018. Based on conditions as of August 1, the USDA expects the national average corn yield to drop 6.9 bushels an acre to 169.5 bushels per acre.

Soybean production is estimated to hit 3.7 billion bushels, down 19 percent from last year. The average soybean yield is 48.5 bushels an acre, down three bushels from last year.

The data is based on surveys with farmers and not actual in field inspections.

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