Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
The 2022 corn yield was slightly worse than the year before but better than expected given the drought, according to Iowa State University Farm Management Specialist Charles Brown.
Brown said the projected corn yield in Iowa was 202 bushels per acre for 2022, 1 percent below the mark from 2021. A few parts of Iowa, such as the northwest and especially the southeast, saw especially dire droughts that depressed yields.
“You can find spots in Iowa where the drought was bad, but our average yield ended up being pretty decent,” Brown said. “I farm in Wapello County, and I had yields about average. If we had an inch more of rain in August, our yields would have jumped. It’s not always how much rain you get, it’s when you get it.”
Brown said soybean yields suffered a little more than corn yields, as they were down 6 percent compared to 2021. The projected soybean yield for Iowa is 59 bushels per acre, and about 50-55 for Southeast Iowa.
Brown said that, though corn yields go through ups and downs based on the weather, the trendline shows yields increasing by 3-4 bushels per acre every year. For instance, U.S. corn yield in 2019 was 167.5 bushels per acre. By 2021, it had risen to 176.7, and though it dipped the following year due to drought to 172.3, the projection for this upcoming 2023 harvest is 181.5 bushels per acre.
There are many factors that are contributing to ever-increasing corn yields. One of those is an improved understanding of genetics that can produce the most efficient hybrid seeds. Another is better technology that improves efficiency in planting and harvesting, such as the use of GPS-guided tractors and combines. This allows farmers to plant in perfectly straight rows.
“We also have a longer growing season now,” Brown said. “We’re planting corn in the first couple weeks of April, whereas we used to do it in the first couple weeks of May. We learned that we can plant in colder soils than we used to plant in.”
During harvest, a computer on the tractor can keep track of which parts of a field are the most productive. A farmer can use that information when choosing seed for next year, or to know where he needs to do some work, like installing drainage tile.
For this upcoming planting season, the United States Department of Agriculture predicts a few more acres will be planted as corn and a little less as soybeans, though Brown doesn’t think the difference will be large.
“Most farmers will continue rotating their crops,” he said.
The price of corn is sitting at about $6.50 per bushel. Brown said corn exports are lagging behind their five-year average, owning partly to China backing off its corn purchases.
Brown said the U.S. remains the No. 1 corn-producing country with 353 million tons of corn projected for this year, followed by China with 274 million tons and Brazil at 126 million tons. Brazil has overtaken the U.S. in soybean production, with 152 million tons compared to America’s 118 million tons.
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org