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Story Archives: Weather puts dent in corn crops
|Weather puts dent in corn crops|
With only a scattering of corn crops left to be harvested, producers are turning their attention to how well they faired in 2009.
LSU AgCenter's Carol Pinnell-Alison said preliminary reports from producers show mixed results.
"They are disappointed and pleased," said Pinnell-Alison. "Disappointed in the sense that they hoped to do better, but pleased given the droughts we had in June."
Franklin Parish agriculture consultant Buckshot Sims also pointed to unfavorable weather in June as a cause of lower than expected corn yields.
"It's all weather-related," said Sims. "With the heat we had back in June, I think we had our August in June."
So far, corn yields are ranging anywhere from 25 bushels an acre to as high as 250 per acre. One determining factor that played a role in the disparity was the availability of water.
"It's all depending on irrigation and soil type," Sims said. "Where we were able to irrigate really well, we had really good yields."
Both Sims and Pinnell-Alison said farmers who irrigated their crops saw good yields overall.
"Fortunately for us, most of our acreage is irrigated," Pinnell-Alison said.
How much producers will make on the 2009 corn crop is yet to be seen.
That's because many farmers waited until later in the growing season to book their crops with grain elevators, hoping prices would climb slightly.
Instead of going up, Sims said the market took a nosedive.
"The main thing that's killing us right now is the market," Sims said. "Last year, we sold corn in the high five-dollar range and now, it's down around $2.90."
Pinnell-Alison said input costs have come down significantly as oil prices declined over the year.
However, depressed yields and the need for extra irrigation could mean higher overall input costs per bushel.
"All of that plays into the profitability of the crop," Pinnell-Alison said.
Sims also noted that, though input costs are down, seed prices for next year are expected to climb.
The uncertainty about corn futures and input costs are leading a lot of producers to question what they'll plant come spring.
Pinnell-Alison said some farmers have indicated they'll turn back to a local favorite: cotton.
"A number of producers have suggested they might plant cotton next year," Pinnell-Alison said.
Though Sims said it was still "a little too soon" to determine what will get planted in the next growing season, the possibility of a return to cotton was welcome.
"To be honest with you, I'd love to see cotton come back," Sims said.
Though cotton fairs well in drier weather, Sims said the high cost of planting the crop could deter producers. Also, Sims said he expects corn prices will rebound in coming weeks and months.
That may be little consolation for the 2009 producers, bruised by weather and a depressed global market for their product.
Despite the mixed news, Pinnell-Alison remained upbeat about the harvest.
"We're just about finished," Pinnell-Alison said. "Overall, when it's all said and done, we'll have a good year."