October 10, 2007 | By: Aimee Nielson

There’s not an area of Kentucky agriculture that the 2007 drought has not touched. University of Kentucky Extension Livestock and Forage Economist Kenny Burdine said the variance of the drought’s effects on grain production from county to county is great and averages don’t tell the whole story.

“The difference in production levels across the state this year is mind boggling,” he said. “Even within individual counties, we are seeing wide differences in yields. Some areas that were blessed with timely rains are seeing pretty good yields, but there are also a lot of areas where state average yields would sound great.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s October crop production report lowered Kentucky’s estimated soybean yield by two more bushels, bringing it down to 28 bushels per acre – more than a 35 percent decrease from 2006. If the report is correct, Kentucky’s 2007 soybean production would be down 50 percent from last year by combining lower yields and fewer harvested acres, Burdine said.

“It’s true that Kentucky corn and soybean producers are enjoying stronger prices this year, but their yields have not been anywhere near last year’s levels,” he said. “Also, let’s not forget the losses many of them saw on their wheat crop this past spring due to the late Easter freeze.” 

The USDA increased Kentucky’s average corn yield estimate from September to 124 bushels per acre. Actually, despite lower yield expectations than last year, Burdine said Kentucky corn production should be up by about 10 percent.

“This is of course due to massive increases in corn acreage in response to price signals sent earlier in the year,” he said. “Most of this increase in corn acreage came directly from soybeans, which explains the difference in the two projections.”

Burdine added that across the United States, soybean prices have strengthened since the middle of August, more so than corn during that same time period. He said that while many factors are at play, the major one has been that the soybean balance sheet for the upcoming marketing year looks tighter than the corn balance sheet.

“The bean market will probably try to buy back some acreage in 2008,” Burdine said. “At the same time, the wheat market is trying to buy some acres as well, because wheat supplies are also very tight. All this has made for a very unique fall and it appears to be setting up a very interesting 2008 as well.”


Kenny Burdine, 859-257-7273