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Iowa farmers to see record corn crop

BY DANIELLE SCHAEFER | AUGUST 26, 2014 5:00 AM

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Corn is popping past expectations this year.

“This year, nationally and in Iowa, we are going to harvest a record crop,” said Jerry Mohr, an Eldridge, Iowa, farmer and Iowa Corn Growers’ Association treasurer and secretary.

 According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the expected corn harvest this year is 14 billion bushels, which would break last year’s record harvest.

Local farmers are ready for this year’s harvest, but they are keeping their excitement in check.

“We’re cautiously optimistic, but things are looking pretty good,” Steve Swenka, a Tiffin area farmer said.

Swenka’s average harvest is around 185 bushels per acres; however, because of severe drought, the harvests were lower the past two years.

While he said he is hopeful for more positive results this year, Swenka said it is still hard to estimate how much he can expect to harvest.

“You really need to get into your first field before you have any idea what your harvest will be,” Swenka said.

One contribution to the increase in corn growth has been the lower temperature this summer, said S. Elwynn Taylor, an Iowa State University professor of agronomical meteorology.

This decrease in temperature, Taylor said, is a continuing result of the polar vortex, which the Midwest and East Coast experienced last winter, and it has helped perfect growing conditions for corn.

“This season has really been helped by having these mild temperatures all summer long,” State Climatologist Harry Hillaker said.

Other than the cooler weather this summer, wet conditions were also ideal for the corn’s growth.

“The June rainfall produced very wet soil conditions, which are very helpful for providing water to crops during the generally drier grain-filled months of July and August,” said Chris Anderson, assistant director of Iowa State University’s climatescience program.

However, Swenka said, he is unsure if the abundance of rain may have spoiled some corn on the field.

“Corn can become yellow [on the outside] from being in wet soil for too long. You generally see that to an extent,” he said. “We didn’t see it too much last year because it was generally dry.”

Overall, the yellow corn is not expected to be a significant problem, and the surplus of corn will account for any that was damaged.

There are 39 million acres of corn in Iowa, and Hillaker said approximately 5 percent will be negatively affected by rain.

Another setback that farmers are expected to face is their harvest season starting later than usual.

“The cooler summer has led to a two- to three-week delay on harvest,” Mohr said. “If we can catch back up on our summer, we can expect to harvest soon.”

Farmers such as Mohr usually anticipate the harvest to start on Sept. 20. Instead, they now expect to start on Oct. 1.

Despite these minor setbacks, farmers are still optimistic about the yields.

Mohr said that while his prices are usually set at $5.20 a bushel, they could drop to $3.40 because of the high supply.

“The large crop will tell the world that Iowa’s corn is open for business,” Mohr said. “When you have a great supply, like we do, all of a sudden corn will come back into play.”


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