By Mike Grant
---- — Farmers have begun the corn harvest in Daviess County and results appear to producing a lot of smiles in the fields. Corn is by far the county's top cash crop and the yields being reported so far this year are indicating this could be a golden season.
"We are getting 20 bushels an acre more than the best year we ever had," said Daviess County farmer Tom Boyd. "Our early corn is routinely making 250 bushels an acre. I think we're headed for the biggest corn crop we've ever seen around here."
Boyd isn't the only farmer in the county that is seeing a bumper crop. "We are seeing some unbelievable yields, more than 200 bushels an acre," said farmer Steve Myers. "We haven't even begun harvesting some of our best land and the crop is awfully good."
"We were expecting some good yields around the state," said Daviess County Extension Agent Scott Monroe. "Those are some pretty impressive numbers."
Those impressive numbers have the potential to impact more than just the farm. With Daviess County being so rural, money on the farm can mean a lot more money to local businesses. "It can't do anything but help the community," said Samantha Bobbitt with the Daviess County Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Bureau. "Good years on the farm usually means good years for car dealers and farm implement operations. They tend to spend a lot of money at home."
"This big crop is also going to be good for our end users like Perdue and Farbest and GPC," said Myers. "This won't be like last year where they had to pay extra and bring in corn from Wisconsin. It will be available right here."
Because of the way the spring rains fell, it appears that southern Indiana may have 2 distinctly different corn crops. One that was planted very early and one that went into the fields later. The big yields are being reported on those early fields. "We pushed pretty hard this spring to get those fields planted in between the rains. People who got out early are really doing well," said Boyd.
The later planted corn still isn't ready to be picked, so no one knows for certain what it will yield. "Every crop starts out with a maximum potential," said Monroe. "When its planted late, that cuts the yield. If it turns off dry, that cuts it. The weather gets really hot during pollination the yield falls. All of that happened with the later corn."
That late corn could still turn out to be pretty good. "I've talked to some guys in the eastern part of the county that didn't get their corn out until June and they say it looks awfully good," said Myers.
Boyd has grain operations that stretch across multiple counties in southern Indiana and Illinois. "I am hearing from a lot of other farmers that put in early crops in those other counties that they are seeing the same thing we are here in Daviess County."
A big corn crop this fall is the exact opposite of what farmers saw last year. Drought totally wiped out some fields. Farmers harvested fields that sometimes only produced 50 acres a bushel. "This will be a big recovery," said Boyd. "The ones who will really feel it will be those who did not have crop insurance last year."
"A good crop will certainly help those farmers," added Monroe.
It should also mean a better year for merchants in the area. "Coming off such a bad year, when we have a boom like this it means a lot to the entire economy," said Bobbitt.
"When there is corn out there it's good for everybody," said Myers. "With this crop we've never had it so good. A big crop is a good problem to have."
The early results in southern Indiana may not be typical across the entire cornbelt but if they are farmers are concerned that the result will be that prices will begin to fall. "It already costs so much money to put in a crop," said Boyd. "I worry that the big yields will drive down prices and cut into our profit."
"A lot of farmers sold their corn on contract and some are getting $6 a bushel for that," said Myers. "This big crop may mean they don't have enough storage so that will probably start sending prices down."
While some farmers may just now be starting their harvest others are moving in a hurry to finish the harvest. "The moisture content is about right," said Boyd. "We have about 50 percent of our crop harvested."
"We've got about 30 percent of our crop in," said Myers. "It's a big crop. We're going to be working a lot of hours. It's still pretty early. I think we are pretty much on target to get it in."
Farmers looking at good corn crops know that some strong winds or a long wet spell could still cut into the results this year. "We'll stay at it," said Boyd. "After all, it's not a crop until its in the bin."