Farmers in both Tennessee and Indiana experienced a dry start to the growing season, but abundant precipitation in July and August helped alleviate drought conditions, resulting in above average yields.
‘Best ever’ corn yields reported in Tennessee
Mark Spradlin, a corn and soybean farmer in the Madison, Henderson, and Chester counties of Tennessee, says his corn crop this year had the best yields he’s ever seen since he started farming in 1987. His corn crop yields averaged 206 bushels per acre (bpa), he says, and his soybeans are so far averaging yields in the low 60s.
Things didn’t start off well for Spradlin, though. After his crops were planted, he says that the rain “cut off” as soon as his corn was in the ground. “We were as close to losing the corn crop as you could have been,” Spradlin says.
He adds he’s surprised how long his corn crop held on despite the dry conditions early in the season. At the end of June, Spradlin says the corn was curling to preserve energy and moisture until the rain fell.
About 7 to 10 inches of rainfall in July turned Spradlin’s concerns around, helping him harvest the best corn crop he’s ever had, he says.
Unfortunately, though, Spradlin says drought conditions have returned to Tennessee. “It hasn’t rained hardly any in weeks,” he says. As a result, Spradlin says the cover crops that he planted are in need of rain to germinate.
The latest drought monitor map shows that 9% of Tennessee is in D3 extreme drought. Thirty-six percent of the state is in D2 severe drought, 37% is in D1 moderate drought, and the remaining 19% is abnormally dry. Compared to three months ago, nearly 88% of the state’s acres were free of drought stress.
Indiana soybean yields are a ‘pleasant surprise’
In Indiana, Larry Wilkinson, a corn and soybean farmer from Kimmell, Indiana, says that he was pleasantly surprised by soybean yields this year after a dry year.
His soybeans, which averaged 54 bpa across the farm, were surprising because while scouting his fields, he only saw two soybean seeds per pod.
While drought did play a role in limiting yield potential, Wilkinson says that the Canadian wildfires also impacted his soybean crop’s ability to photosynthesize due to a lack of sunlight. He says smoke from the fires prevented his soybean crop from getting the sunshine they needed.
When it comes to his corn crop, Wilkinson says they just started harvest as of the end of October, but yields are good so far. Right now, Wilkinson says his corn yields are 215 bpa, which is close to average for his farm.
One challenge that farmers in northeast Indiana have had recently is rainfall during harvest, Wilkinson says. Although he’s finished harvesting his soybeans, he says there are still soybeans left to harvest in his neighbor’s fields. Wilkinson made the decision to harvest his soybeans while they were a little wet, a decision he’s happy to have made.
Wilkinson says the ground has been dry enough that the rain isn’t affecting their ability to harvest the corn.
Overall, Wilkinson says that he’s blessed to have good, heavy soil that retains moisture, as well as to have had a good crop this year.
While farmers in the northern portion of the state are experiencing minimal drought conditions, the southern portion of Indiana is in a D1 moderate drought. Statewide, the latest drought monitor map for Indiana shows that 63% of the state’s acres are in D1 moderate drought, 14% are abnormally dry, and the remaining 23% are free of drought stress.