Crop yields define contrast across Plymouth County

Thursday, October 11, 2012
This photo of a combine heading away, taken earlier in the harvest season on the La Mont Schmid farm near Kingsley, may serve as a symbol of the nearing completion of the 2012 harvest, all but done in Plymouth County and across northwest Iowa.

If agricultural producers are looking for a word that solidifies the 2012 crop yields, "contrast" is a likely fit.

A Sentinel spot-check of Plymouth County grain elevators bears out earlier expectations of wide variances throughout the county.

Darwin Franzen, manager of several local cooperatives including those at Hinton, Oyens and Akron, summed it up this way as producers wrap-up fall harvesting for 2012, a year of drought:

"There's been a wide variance," Franzen said "There's been a great variety of yields as a result of where the rains came and didn't."

He pointed to corn yields of between 20 and 50 bushels per acre in the Akron area as compared to those of 125-180 bushel on the eastern side of the county in the Oyens area.

He said soybean yields shared a similar contrast with 15-25 bushels per acre coming in at the Farmers Cooperative Company, of Akron, in comparison, for example, to the beans in the Oyens area in the 25-40 bushel range.

Jared Ehrp, general manager of Farmers Cooperative, in Remsen, agreed that producers in his area have perhaps been among the most fortunate when it comes to crop yields with corn yields in the 140-150 bushel yield range and soybean yields of between 50 and 55 bushel.

Ehrp and Franzen said the drought-stricken crops, indicating a low-moisture content, could be described as "good" quality-wise.

A similar evaluation came from Chris Pedersen, manager of Farmer's Cooperative Elevator, of Kingsley, with regard to moisture.

"It's evident the better quality crops as well as higher yields are found as you travel from west to east across the county," he said.

He pointed to producers with corn yields of between 135 and 140 bushel and beans yielding in "the low 40s to 50s."

Those producers were ''well-satisfied" with what they were able to bring in during a drought-year, Pedersen said.

As for crop-marketing decisions, Farmers Cooperative Akron Manager Pat Regan and his counterparts across the county observed that most farmers have chosen to hold crops rather than market them, pending further indication of future crop prices.

Hinton's Franzen noted the crops being marketed now are those where the corn and beans had been pre-sold.

Asked about his concerns for next year should a mild winter prevail, as some agriculture spokespeople say is possible, Franzen had this to say:

"I really don't want to have to pray for snow," he said. "I think, however, we'd all settle for some good fall rains countywide to get the amount of soil moisture we need for when we go into the fields come spring."