Amid reports of devastating drought in Illinois that helped decrease projections for the U.S. corn and soybean harvest from last year's record levels, many local farms appear to be garden spots.
Corn production across the country is expected to be down 12 percent from last year and soybean production down 11 percent, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released yesterday.
Throughout Ohio, corn and soybeans are thought to be down markedly too. But in Michigan, the report predicts corn and soybeans will yield slightly more than last year. And area grain merchants say near-record yields are likely in some counties near the Ohio-Michigan line.
That's all contingent, however, on area soybean fields getting at least an inch of rain in the next 10 days.
"It's going to be the difference between a good bean crop and a record bean crop in some areas," said Alan Peters, a grain merchant at Michigan Agricultural Commodities near Blissfield.
Mid-August is when soybean plants need rain to grow the bean in the pods and farmers are looking hopefully at forecasts for weekend showers. July showers appear to have come just when corn plants needed them most.
But after weeks of hot weather, soil moisture is rapidly depleting.
Yesterday's temperature in southeastern Putnam County in Pandora was 94 degrees, said a longtime National Weather Service observer.
For some areas that had missed many earlier rains, the July showers were too late to prevent damage.
In one of the hardest hit strips locally, from Upper Sandusky to Van Wert, which is normally a rich agricultural area, poor weather has pushed yield projections down 15 to 20 percent from usual, estimated Bill Dodds, general manager of the grain division at The Andersons Inc. in Maumee.
But even that outlook is better than what he had feared last month before the mid July rains hit.
Further south in the state, many crops are poorer. Throughout Ohio, the agriculture department predicts corn yields of 135 bushels to the acre, down from 158 last year. For soybeans, it predicts 42 bushels an acre, down from 47 last year.
Michigan's projected soybean yields are lower at 39 bushels, but that's up from 38 last year. The corn forecast there is for 135 bushels, up from 134 last year.
Across the country, corn production is forecast at 10.3 billion bushels, which is down 12 percent from last year. Yields are expected to average 139 bushels, down 21 bushels from last year's record high.
Those numbers are pushed down by Illinois - normally a powerhouse in the midst of the corn belt - where the average yield is predicted at 125 bushels, down from 180 last year.
Soybean production nationally is forecast at almost 2.8 billion bushels by the agriculture department. That's down 11 percent from 2004.
Yields are expected to average almost 39 bushels an acre, down about 4 bushels from last year.
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