Corn Farmers Thrilled, Soybean Farmers Disheartened by this Year's Yields

Dec. 12, 2017
combine and wagons harvesting soybeans

COLUMBUS, Ohio— Despite the gush of rain in the early part of the season, corn made a comeback and led to surprisingly high yields in Ohio this year.

The state’s soybean farmers were not so fortunate: yields were down an average of four bushels compared to a year ago.

Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture had estimated Ohio’s average corn yield would be 173 bushels per acre, many farmers harvested 200 plus bushels per acre, said Allen Geyer, a research associate with Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

“Everyone has been pleasantly surprised about yields. Price-wise, that’s a whole different story,” Geyer said.

On average, Ohio farmers got $3.50 per bushel for their corn and $9.39 for soybeans, both down from the 2016 averages of $3.61 per bushel for corn, $9.66 for soybeans.

Favorable weather through much of the season contributed to high yields of corn this year, Geyer said. No days were too hot, which can slow corn’s growth.

However, the season got off to a rocky start. In mid-April, mild temperatures encouraged a lot of farmers to plant, but then heavy rain that month forced some farmers to replant, sometimes multiple times. So, some planting extended into early June, Geyer said.

“This year we had a lot of replanting going on,” he said.

The late planting along with the wet fall delayed corn harvest this year. As of the end of November, 87 percent of the state’s corn acres had been harvested, which is 9 percent less than the five-year average for what’s harvested by that date.

Of the corn grown in Ohio, the vast majority goes to feed animals, produce ethanol, or is ground up for corn meal or flour. This field corn is far different from the sweet corn that people eat. It’s harder, higher in starch and not so tasty.

Ohio’s soybean farmers this year were a bit frustrated with their yields. This year’s average was 51 bushels per acre, compared with 55 last year, said Laura Lindsey, a soybean specialist with OSU Extension.

Some parts of the state ended up getting really dry in August and September, which may be why yields are down, Lindsey said. Across the state, the wet spring led to smaller, yellower soybeans, she said.

“It’s good to have rain, but it was high intensity rain so we had a lot of standing water and saturated soils,” Lindsey said.

Drenched soils hinder the growth of soybeans. “There were a lot of stunted and yellow beans across the state in June,” Lindsey said.

Despite the improved weather in July and August, soybean yields were still affected.

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Alayna DeMartini


Allen Geyer

Laura Lindsey