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Economy

Area corn, soybean yields hurt by weather

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    17-year-old Kendall Trabbic checks out corn crop as his dog Ebony romps in the field on the family's Wood County farm.

    <lisa dutton / blade

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Area-corn-soybean-yields-hurt-by-weather

17-year-old Kendall Trabbic checks out corn crop as his dog Ebony romps in the field on the family's Wood County farm.

lisa dutton / blade Enlarge

Forecasters predict bumper corn and soybean crops nationally, although a cool, wet spring has dampened the outlook somewhat in Ohio.

Revenues on many corn and soybean farms in the state will drop 10 to 15 percent from last year, according to Ohio State University agricultural economist Matt Roberts.

Farm economists still expect strong yields in Ohio, but say they won't match the performance of farms nationally. The huge U.S. yield -a record for corn and the second-largest ever for soybeans - will drive down prices, contributing to lower revenues on Ohio farms.

Meanwhile, costs to produce this year's crops increased 3 to 5 percent over last year because of higher fuel charges for field work, drying grain, and hauling it to buyers.

"Farmers this year in Ohio will be slightly worse off than last year," Mr. Roberts said. "But last year was a very good year."

Despite the impact of the weather early in the growing season, soybean yields in Ohio and Michigan will be higher than last year, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture's crop production report released yesterday. But corn yields will be slightly lower, the report said.

That's not unexpected.

For many area farmers, last year's corn crop was just too good to be repeated.

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Enlarge

Donald Trabbic, who in retirement is raising 40 acres of corn and 65 acres of soybeans, near State Rts. 199 and 582 in Wood County's Webster Township, said last year's corn crop was the best he's ever raised. The 66-year-old said he's been farming all his life.

This year his soybeans look better than they did last year and the corn appears very good. But Mr. Trabbic warned yesterday, "It's not harvested."

Indeed, although yesterday's agriculture department report is considered to be the season's first reliable estimate of corn and soybean yields, it will be at least six weeks until the earliest harvesters roll into many local fields.

Too much or too little rain during that time could wreak havoc. An early frost would be devastating for farmers who were kept out of the fields in the middle of the spring because of nearly continual wet weather.

Mr. Trabbic said his crops "could use a little bit of heat."

That's a worry, especially with soybeans, throughout the upper Midwest, according to analysts.

Some predict that the agriculture department's projection of a 2.877 billion bushel national soybean crop, which is up 19 percent from last year, might be too high.

Still, huge crops are expected to end, at least temporarily, an upturn in corn and soybean prices that began in 2002. Many area farmers wish they had signed futures market contracts in the spring for more of the crops growing in their fields.

Lower prices are expected to trigger government aid programs, which assist farmers when prices decline.

Soybean futures prices surged to $10.65 a bushel in April - up from a national average selling price of $5.53 for the 2002 crop. Corn reached a six-year high in the spring before subsiding.

But some analysts said prices might hold fairly steady for awhile.

"I don't think there's any real [price] collapse coming," said private consultant John Schnittker, based in California. "It's already happened."

And agricultural economist Darrell Good at the University of Illinois said there was potential for higher prices in coming months because of the ravenous demand for U.S. crops.

Reuters contributed to this report

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6102.

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