November 4, 2005 | By: Laura Skillman

Kentucky’s corn and soybean producers are nearing the end of their 2005 harvest, with yields well below record levels but better than many expected. 

Corn harvest was 99 percent complete while 81 percent of the soybeans had been harvested by the end of October, according to estimates by the Kentucky Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Kentucky’s corn crop is expected to yield 147.3 million bushels for an average of 127 bushels per acre. That’s 15 percent below the 2004 record high crop. Soybean production is expected to come in 13 percent below the 2004 record crop at 50 million bushels, or 40 bushels per acre, according to the reporting service.

“I would not have expected these yields back in July,” said Jim Herbek, an Extension grain crops specialist with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. “I would have thought they’d be a lot less. They came through with the help of some timely rain even though they were stressed out.” 

Hot temperatures and drought conditions across much of the state had farmers concerned about crop yields. But rains from Hurricane Dennis helped to boost corn, and Hurricane Katrina’s rains helped soybeans, particularly late-season beans, he said.

“The corn crop seems to have turned out quite a bit better than most people were expecting based on what we went through this year – a very, tough difficult growing season in terms of moisture and temperatures,” he said. “We weren’t expecting yields to be good but as the harvest progressed, yields were coming out better than predicted.”

Herbek said rainfall from Hurricane Dennis helped corn ears to fill out.

“We did get some helpful moisture – although it was too late to get the excellent yields that occurred last year,” he said.

Another reason for less than disastrous yields is better corn hybrids. During similar dry periods in the 1980s, hybrids available then weren’t able to overcome drought conditions as much as today’s hybrids are, he said.

Soybean yields are also coming in better than expected considering the stress the plant went through during the growing season, Herbek said.

“Again we had the rainfall from Dennis and Katrina that really helped out, especially the double-cropped beans,” he said. “They were really struggling to maintain the pods they had. The beans seem to be a little bit smaller which is understandable given the stress they were under.”

Corn and soybean yields nationally are expected to be lower than 2004 as many areas of the country suffered through weather problems as well. Even with lower yields, America’s farmers are expected to harvest the second-largest corn crop on record.



Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278

Contact: Jim Herbek, 270-365-7541 ext. 205