Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 22, 2014

Crops in ‘excellent condition’

By Xiomara Levsen | Aug 27, 2014

According to the crop report released from the Iowa Department of Agriculture Tuesday, Iowa’s corn crop is reported to be in excellent condition.
Iowa State field agronomist Virgil Schmitt agreed with this.
“In general, crop conditions are really pretty good considering the lack of rainfall,” Schmitt said. “The cooler summer has been helpful. We’ve also picked up some rains [in eastern Iowa] over the last couple of weeks that has helped with subsoil moisture.”
Another item helping with crop production is the lack of insect issues among the soybean and corn crops.
“Bug issues have been amazingly low this year,” Schmitt said. “This is consistent with what chemical reps are saying. I was speaking with a chemical rep who is the same age as I am, in his late 50s, and he said this is the lowest he’s ever seen them.”
However, Schmitt said he has seen some sudden death syndrome in soybean crops and northern corn leaf blight on farms he’s surveyed in eastern Iowa within the past couple of weeks.
“With the sudden death syndrome we’re only seeing a little bit of that,” he said. “Not sure what affect this will have on the yields, but it’s so late in the season that I personally don’t think it will affect the yields that much.”
A lot of farmers have told him they’re having crop dusters come in to spray their corn crops because of the northern corn leaf blight, Schmitt said. He said this would have little effect on the yields for this year’s corn crop.
The crop report said most of the corn crop is in the dough stage, which is when the inside of the kernel begins to harden. The crop report also said corn is 17 days ahead of last year.
As far as eastern Iowa goes, Schmitt said the corn production he’s seen is behind.
“Most of what I’ve been seeing in eastern Iowa is the denting stage,” Schmitt said. “This puts the corn crop 2 1/2 to three weeks from maturity. This puts maturity of the corn crop somewhere between Sept. 13 and Sept. 15. We’ll probably hit it a week late.”
Hopefully farmers will be able to harvest most of their corn crop before the first killing frost in October because afterward farmers would have to dry their corn, Schmitt said.
“There’s some concern about having to dry the crops this year and having enough propane to do so, especially after the last winter we had,” he said.
Prices are also a topic of concern for farmers at the Farm Progress Show in Boone this week, Schmitt said.
“Right now the corn price is below the cost of production,” he said. “Soybeans are the same way. People who didn’t have their prices locked in earlier in the season are going to have a hard time recovering from this.”
The cost to produce a bushel of corn is estimated to be around $4, Schmitt said. Current prices aren’t even hitting that mark.
“For soybeans the cost to produce a bushel is $11,” Schmitt said. “The market’s not offering that, either.”
The reason why the crop prices are so low is because crops have been over produced and saturated markets, Schmitt said.
“You have states like North and South Dakota growing corn where it’s not normally done,” he said. “The weather conditions have helped them to grow corn there and the numbers for next year look to be the same.”
If this continues the next 18 months for Iowa farmers will be very hard because of the low prices, Schmitt said.

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