SIKESTON — Despite being behind schedule, the state's corn crop seems to be on track to exceed expectations of the agriculture community.
David Reinbott, MU Extension's Southeast Region agriculture business specialist, said the local corn harvest season is just beginning so it's difficult to discuss the crop's yields.
"This whole corn crop is going to very variable," Reinbott said. "The weather has played havoc on us. It was so wet, and I think there's some nitrogen deficiency in the corn."
For some farmers shelling corn won't begin for weeks, Reinbott said.
"Farmers got a late start with planting because of the wet spring and that brought a lot of problems on, and that's what delayed the corn crop all over the country," Reinbott said.
The aftermath of Hurricane Ike was likely to increase rainfall in the area, which will delay the corn harvest even more, Reinbott noted.
However, crop progress and condition reports released Monday by the National Agricultural Statistics Service's Missouri Field Office indicate the corn crop is faring well.
As of Sunday, 43 percent of Southeast Missouri's corn was matured compared to 100 percent the same time last year, according to the NASS reports. Fifty-five percent of the crop is rated in good condition while 19 percent is rated excellent and 22 percent fair.
Statewide, 17 percent of corn is mature, more than two weeks behind last year and three weeks behind normal. Overall, condition is rated 33 percent fair, 40 percent good and 10 percent excellent, NASS reported.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture crop production report released last month, U.S. farmers are poised to harvest the second largest corn crop on record.
From a yield standpoint, total U.S. corn production is estimated at 12.3 billion bushels - down 6 percent from last year's record, but up 17 percent from 2006.
"These numbers again prove the unrelenting productive capacity of Missouri growers to meet the needs of feed, food and fuel," said Mike Geske, Missouri Corn Growers Association president and farmer from Matthews. "Despite the wet spring, destructive floods and hostile critiques, corn growers have remained focused on doing what we do best."
Based on these figures, Missouri farmers planted an estimated 2.8 million acres. The yield was pegged at 146 bushels per acre as of Aug. 1, second only to the 162 bushels per acre harvested in 2004. This yield still delivers 14 bushels above the 5-year average. If weather cooperates, corn production is expected to reach 380 million bushels, making this one of the top five corn crops in Missouri's history, Geske said.
The USDA report also said soybean production is on pace to be the nation's fourth largest in the crop's history. U.S. soybean production is forecast at 2.97 billion bushels, up 15 percent from last year but down 7 percent from the 2006 record. Yields are expected to average 40.5 bushels per acre, down 0.7 bushels from 2007, while harvested area is expected to be 17 percent higher than in 2007.
As of Sunday, 95 percent of the soybean crop has bloomed in Missouri, nine days behind last year and 17 behind normal, according to NASS crop progress and condition reports. Eighty percent are setting pods; 10 percent is turning color, and 2 percent are dropping leaves. Soybean condition is rated 36 percent fair, 36 percent good and 8 percent excellent.
In Southeast Missouri, 90 percent of soybeans are setting pods compared to 100 percent the same time last year, according to the NASS report, which was released Monday. Twenty percent are turning color compared to 53 percent last year. Forty-four percent of the crop is rated in good condition and 13 percent in excellent condition.
All U.S. cotton production is forecast at 13.8 million bales, down 28 percent from last year. Yield is expected to average 842 pounds per acre, down 37 pounds from last year's record. Producers expect to harvest 7.85 million acres of all cotton, the lowest harvested area since 1983 and 25 percent less than last year.
As of Sunday, the state's cotton crop has 28 percent with bolls opening, more than two weeks behind last year and almost a week behind normal, NASS reports said. Fifty-seven of the crop is rated in good condition and 8 percent excellent.