Iowa corn, soybean yields fall as drought, heat take toll

Hay production at highest low since 1964

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A final 2012 crop production report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed what Iowa grain farmers already knew — drought and scorching temperatures took their toll on 2012 corn and soybean crops.

The USDA dropped the state's average corn yield to 137 bushels per acre, three bushels per acre below the December forecast and significantly lower that the 172 bushels per acre recorded in 2011. Iowa's record average corn yield of 182 bushels per acre was recorded in 2009.

The 137 bushels per acre average yield in 2012 was the lowest since 1995 when the USDA set the final figure at 123 bushels per acre.

Overall, Iowa farmers produced 1.87 billion bushels of corn in 2012, down from 2.36 billion bushels in 2011, said the USDA report, released Friday.

Iowa's  average soybean yield was 44.5 bushels per acre, down from 51.5 bushels per acre in 2011. Production totaled 413.8 million bushels of soybeans last year, down from 475.3 million bushels in 2011.

But while the hot weather and drought reduced the state's corn and soybean crops, Iowa still led the nation in production of both commodities.

The USDA said national corn production was estimated at 10.8 billion bushels, up 1 percent from the Nov. 1 forecast, but 13 percent below 12.4 billion bushels in 2011.

The average corn yield nationwide was estimated at 123.4 bushels per acre — an increase of 1.1 bushels per acre from the Nov. 1 forecast, but 23.8 bushels below the 147.2 bushels per acre recorded in 2011. That's up 1.1 bushels from the November forecast, but still 23.8 bushels below the 2011 average yield of 147.2 bushels per acre.

Soybean production in 2012 nationally was 3.01 billion bushels, up 1 percent from the Nov. 1 forecast but down 3 percent from 3.09 billion bushels in 2011.

Reaction to the USDA report on the Chicago Board of Trade was bullish for corn, with the price rising 15 cents per bushel to $7.14. Soybeans slipped 12 cents per bushel to $13.67 based on USDA projections of increased production from Brazil,which is expected to overtake the United State as the world’s largest soybean exporter this year.

Production of all dry hay for 2012 is estimated at 120 million tons, down 2 percent from the Oct. 1 forecast and down 9 percent from the 2011 total. That's the lowest United States hay production level since 1964.

Hay area harvested is estimated at 56.3 million acres, down 2 percent from the Oct. 1 forecast, but up 1 percent from last year. The average yield, at 2.13 tons per acre, is up 0.01 ton from October but down 0.23 ton from the previous year.

The 2012 national hay yield per acre is the lowest since 1976.

Prices for hay continue to be strong at auction in Dyersville and Fort Atkinson. Buyers from adjoining states continue to bid up the price of good quality hay.

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