Missouri's 2013 corn harvest exceeds expectations

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 | 4:56 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Missouri's corn harvest was up in 2013, exceeding early forecasts and bouncing back from a drought-withered 2012.

Farmers produced more than 435 million bushels of corn at an average of 136 bushels an acre last year, up from 75 bushels in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The numbers exceeded the department's August forecast, which predicted an average yield of 130 bushels per acre for Missouri.

Elsewhere in the region, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee also were estimated to have record yields.

The results came as a surprise to some experts after a wet spring and dry summer. The wet start caused many farmers to plant late.

"We expected dryness and heat to really hurt the crop, but with the yields we saw, that didn't really pan out," said Steve Maliszewski of the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

MU agronomy professor Bill Wiebold also said he was surprised by this year's harvest. He attributed the corn's success to timely rain and the resiliency of the plants.

"It doesn't take a lot of precipitation, but it has to come at the right times," Wiebold said.

The corn responded much better to conditions in 2013 than in 2012, which was ravaged by drought.

"It just shows that the crops that we grow — breeding has made them a little more resistant to short-term kinds of stresses," Wiebold said.

Although the increased production was a pleasant surprise, it coincides with a predictable and significant drop in corn prices. In December 2013, corn sold for $4.40 per bushel, compared to $7.41 per bushel in December 2012, Maliszewski said.

Wiebold said that although farmers were happy about the unexpectedly strong harvest, they were disappointed to see prices fall.

"I'm sure all of them are hoping for a little better price structure in the coming growing season," he said.

Nathan Oglesby, a grain originator at the MFA Agriservice elevator in Glasgow, said some elevators found it difficult to move corn that contained more moisture than usual. That extra moisture is a result of farmers planting late after a wet spring, he said.

Corn at the Glasgow MFA was shelved at 17 percent to 20 percent moisture levels, Oglesby said. Fifteen percent moisture is considered dry.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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