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August 18, 2013

USDA forecasts bumper crop, Cass farmers watching weather

USDA forecasts bumper crop; corn farmers watching summer heat

Once, there was last year. The sweltering heat withered the local corn crop to an average 108 bushels per acre in Cass County, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Crops farmers bemoaned the parched ground's effect on their yields, and cattle and hog herders worried that feed from the shriveled corn would sicken their livestock.

Then, there was this year.

The USDA last week forecast bin-busting corn and soybean yields for 2013, in what the Purdue Extension noted was a start contrast from the crops report a year ago.

In the annual August crop production report, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service projected a national corn crop of 13.8 billion bushels on an average 154.4 bushels per acre — a forecast no less than 28 percent above last year's yields.

That yield would even beat the previous record of 13.09 billion bushels of corn set in 2009, the Purdue Extension noted.

"To say what a difference a year makes is a huge understatement. It's a big difference this year," said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture, at the Indiana State Fair on Monday, where a panel of agricultural experts analyzed the USDA crops report. The Purdue Extension organized the panel.

Farmers this year got a comparatively late start to the planting season, with half of the state's corn crop planted after the middle of May. Corn development is one or two weeks behind schedule, according to Bob Nielsen, a Purdue Extension agronomist specializing in corn. However, a temperate, sometimes wet spring and summer helped the corn pollinate under little stress.

"The corn is looking pretty well," commented corn farmer Brad Plank, who farms full-time on about 1,100 acres in Deer Creek Township. "I went out and checked a few ears... and they were filled out to the tip."

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