WILMINGTON — Riding high in the cab of his John Deere combine, southern Ohio farmer Wes Montgomery was working hard to finish up a 120-acre field of corn near Bunker Hill-Glendon Road SW and Worthington Road in Fayette County.
For Montgomery and southern Ohio farmers like him, Harvest 2015 has turned out to be better than expected. But farmers in other parts of Ohio, especially the north-central and northwest, have found the heavy rain in the summer has taken its toll in the fields.
“Our corn (harvest) now is going pretty smoothly,” Montgomery said. In the combine’s cab, he watched the computer tablet screen tick off the acres harvested in the field so far — it was showing 58. This was on Oct. 22, and he said he hoped to be finished with the 140 acres by the end of the next day.
So far for his corn, Montgomery said his highest yield has been about 220 bushels per acre and on the low end about 190 bushels an acre. “I am hoping for a field average of about 230. Last year we averaged 235 bushels an acre,” Montgomery said.
And grain prices? “We have contracted some of our corn, about $4.30 a bushel for June (delivery next year),” he said, adding that getting more than $4 a bushel will be good this year. He said he and his family contract between 40,000 and 60,000 bushels of their corn with Cargill through their program to sell. This is about 40 percent of their corn.
Clinton just short of record
In Clinton County, last year’s county corn yield leader at 200 bushels an acre, Extension Educator Tony Nye believes that his county will do well, but probably fall a little short of the 2014 record.
“We won’t reach that 200 bushel an acre for corn this year,” he said. “It will probably be 175 to 180 bushels an acre here. That’s about a 10 percent drop, but pretty good considering what Mother Nature threw at us this year.”
Nye said that it terms of harvest, Clinton County was well over the hump, and would have been done before November had it not been for the rain the last of October. He said Clinton County farmers should be finished with both corn and soybeans by the end of the first week in November.
For soybean yield, Nye said, “We will push the upper 40s. I have heard from farmers in the 46-48 bushels an acre range. Earlier this year, I didn’t think we would get as good a soybean yield as we are now getting.”
Nye said that it is a testament to the genetics of today’s seeds that the crops have been this resilient despite the heavy rains of June and July.
“Also, we have have a safe harvest this year, and that’s the most important thing,” he pointed out.
In Champaign County, Dr. Donald Sanders grows corn and soybeans on his 780-acre farm outside of Urbana. He completed his harvest by mid-October.
“Yes, it went very well. Everything dried up pretty fast this year,” he said. He has about 400 acres of soybeans and 80 acres of corn. He said the soybean yield was good, but he does not yet know how the yield went for his corn. “But I have been hearing that in the Mad River Valley area corn is yielding about 220 bushels an acre,” he said.
Highland County farmer and county Farm Bureau president Nathan Brown said he was finishing up his beans but still has much of his corn to harvest. “I will try to start on the corn this weekend (Oct. 17-18).” he said. “I’ve been really happy with the yield numbers for the soybeans.”
Brown said they have averaged in the “upper 50 to low 60s” in bushels of soybeans per acre. For the early corn so far, he said he has averaged about 190 bushels an acre.
“It’s been a pretty good growing season. We got off to an early start with our planting in the spring. Then it rained and I was worried in June. But now it is looking good,” Brown said. “We are pretty far along.”
In addition to his harvesting, he said he also has planted about 150 acres in rye and radish cover crops, another 30 acres in winter peas and 200 more acres in rye.
State of the state
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service October Field Report, 99 percent of Ohio’s mature corn and 55 percent of the state’s grain corn had been harvested by Oct. 19. This is well ahead of the 22 percent of grain corn harvested by the same date last year and well ahead of the five-year average of the 34 percent five-year average.
By Oct. 18, a whopping 85 percent of Ohio’s soybeans had been harvested. Last year, just 35 percent of the soybean crop had been harvested. The five-year average for soybeans by this time of year was 53 percent.
It is likely that going into November, 99 percent of the state’s soybean crops will be in.
In addition, the U.S.D.A reports that 85 percent of Ohio’s winter wheat has been planted, and about half has emerged. This is also well ahead of 2014.
Gary Brock can be reached at 937-556-5759 or on Twitter at GBrock4.