Aug. 28--BLOOMINGTON -- Corn in McLean County is the cream of the crop, and experts estimate yields will break records dating to 1997.
The county is expected to harvest 222.6 bushels per acre, according to Bloomington-based Soy Capital Ag Services, which took samples from 159 locations in the county. If the yield estimates are true, it would be higher than 2013's actual average yield of 188.6 bushels per acre, and above the average yields of 109.5 in 2012 and 159.6 in 2011.
"We had phenomenal planting conditions and we had ideal temperatures for pollination. I've talked to a lot of growers that are significantly more experienced than I am, with 30-40 seasons under their belt, and they say they haven't seen anything quite this good," said Ross Albert, Soy Capital farm manager.
About 92 percent of the fields sampled returned estimates higher than 200 bushels per acre, compared to 29 percent in 2013, according to Soy Capital's samples.
High yields also mean low prices per bushel, which is a concern for farmers, Albert said. Prices are currently hovering around $3.50 per bushel. The promising yields could also lead to storage issues for farmers, he said.
Bell Enterprises, an elevator based in Deer Creek, sampled 153 fields in Tazwell, McLean and Woodford counties and is estimating a yield of 232.1 bushels per acre. That's above 2013's actual yield of 190.3 bushels per acre in those areas, and 2012's 148.1 bushels-per-acre yield.
"I can never remember the soil being this perfect going into the spring," said Kim Craig, grain merchandiser at Bell Enterprises. "There really isn't any better scenario weather-wise that we could have had."
Craig said he's confident the yield estimates will hold true, unless there are extreme weather events in the next few weeks.
"Normal weather going forward shouldn't change things, and some more rain would do some good," Craig said.
Heartland Bank and Trust Co. estimates that corn yields will be 221.5 bushels per acre throughout Central Illinois. Last year's actual yields were 200.7 bushels per acre.
Heartland Bank sampled 120 locations in McLean, DeWitt, Logan, Livingston, Bureau, Ford and Woodford counties.
Mild weather conditions allowed crops in the area to be planted before Memorial Day, according to Heartland Bank.
Statewide, the USDA expects corn yields of 188 bushels per acre in Illinois. If the estimates hold, that would be a record yield for the state, surpassing the 180 bushels-per-acre average in 2004. Corn production is expected to hit 2.22 billion bushels this year, 6 percent higher than 2013.
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