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County Sees Variety in Crop Conditions Due To Spotty Rains

Japanese Beetles eating corn silks in a field near Kahoka.

By Kevin Fox

On June 28th, I sat down with Bill Bonine, Senior Farm Loan Manager with the USDA in Kahoka to get an idea of where crop production was at this time. Bill serves the counties of Clark, Scotland, Lewis and Marion.  For this interview we talked about conditions here in Clark County.

To begin with let’s get an idea of what we are talking about a far as production acres for 2018. There are 51,169 acres of soybeans, which compares to 69,631 in 2017. Presently, there are 45,163 acres of corn, while in 2017 there were 58,810 acres of corn. There is 1,538 of wheat. There is currently 13,363 acres enrolled in CRP. Using the payment of $65.00 an acre, which is an old payment figure, this amounts to $868,595.00 being paid out. There is also 38,00 acres of pasture, which includes hay ground. And finally, there is 404 acres of alfalfa, and 204 acres of clover.

Bill stated, “There is no doubt that recent rains have improved conditions, but the problem is that the rains have been very spotty, with parts of the county receiving good rains, while other areas have received no moisture and crops are hurting. Soybeans tend to hang until and remain where they are presently at until they receive rains, while corn does not work that way and needs adequate rains two weeks prior to tasseling, as well as two weeks after. This is June 28th and I would rate corn at 10% – 15% Excellent, 50 % – Good, 35% – Fair, and 5% – Poor. As far as Soybeans are concerned, it’s tough because a lot of beans are not up yet. I would rate them at 20% – Excellent, 40% – Good, 10% – Fair, and perhaps 30% Poor. I’m also just as sure that a lot of soybeans will not get planted. But for both beans as corn there is just a lot of disparity as far as soil quality and who got rains and who hasn’t. About 5% of the county’s production acres is irrigated. But everything costs, and the cost associated with installing and running an irrigation system is around $1,250 an acre.

As far as the biggest problem facing us right now, it’s that two weeks ago Japanese Beetles began to appear. These insects attack the silks on corn stalks, and the leaves on soybeans. The only way to combat these beetles is through spraying.

The wheat harvest is underway, and I would rate it at about 50% complete with an average of 60 bushel per acre with good quality. And with the lack of an abundant of rain there was less disease found in it, or mold. Producers are receiving around $4.34 per bushel.

Of course, another problem right now are the markets as we work to solve a trade imbalance. When doing cash flow projections for producers the figure which we projected they would receive for their soybeans was $9.60 a bushel, while today the price that soybeans are getting is $8.35. Corn was figured at $3.60 a bushel and today it’s selling for $3.24.

Those who put up hay had some very good quality hay early, and they got it up early because of the lack of rains.  However, once again spotty rains have also affected the pastures and second and third cuttings of hay and the quality of that hay. This week, large bales of hay sold for over $100. While a year ago they were bringing half of that. While it’s more of a local problem or perhaps areas of Missouri are also experiencing the same problems, but cattle prices have dropped by 30% and producers are considering options, while they consider the markets and costs associated with production. So, it’s possible that locally we may see cattle producers selling off some of their herds. But the good news is that it’s still early and things could turn around, if conditions turn around as well.”