July 28, 2014

Worries grow as drought lingers (AUDIO)

Summer has given way to fall, but worries persist about the lingering drought and its effect on agriculture.

State Agriculture Director Greg Ibach says Nebraska farmers had a unique ability to hold off some of the effect of the drought.

“Irrigation has been a blessing to us, but it also has come at a price. We’ve paid for those yields many times in our energy costs to be able to deliver that water to those crops,” Ibach tells Brownfield Ag News.

Still, yield is down this year.

The USDA has cut its corn production estimate, again. The USDA’s October 1st estimate has been revised downward to 10.7 billion bushels, 21 million below the September number. That would be 13% off of last year’s yield and the lowest yield since 2006. The average yield could be the smallest since 1995 at 122 bushels per acre. The average last year was just over 147 bushels.

The impact of the drought on the Corn Belt is evident in the estimates. The USDA is projecting the lowest corn crop yields since 1995 for Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The soybean crop is projected to total 2.86 billion bushels by the USDA, which is 226 million bushels better than the September number, but still would reflect a soybean crop 196 million below last year. Average yield is expected to be 37.8 bushels per acre compared to 41.9 in 2011.

In Nebraska, the corn crop is expected to yield 1.299 billion bushels, well below the 1.536 billion bushels harvested last year. The USDA expects Nebraska soybean fields to yield 202.95 million bushels, compared to 261.36 million in 2011.

Ibach notes that the down yields drive prices up and that will have a big impact on livestock producers.

“With escalation in corn and soybean prices, those sectors of the livestock industry that depend on the feed grains, they’ve been impacted by the increase in cost as well,” Ibach says.

Ibach says Nebraska needs rain, not just for the crops, but for the pastures as well.

Ken Anderson and John Perkins, Brownfield Ag News, contributed to this report.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]