August 20, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman
Princeton, Ky.

Despite a challenging spring, farmers are expecting good yields from their corn and soybean crops.

A wet spring resulted in some fields having to be replanted, while planting was delayed in other fields.  It also was a real challenge trying to apply fertilizer and making timely spray applications.

“It wasn’t easy, but it was still better than last year,” said Chad Lee, a grain crops specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

Lee said production estimates released last week by the Kentucky Agricultural Statistics Service reflect what he’s also seen and heard from farmers across the state.

The estimates forecast a 146.9 million bushel corn crop, up 30 percent from the 2002 crop when dry weather conditions limited production to an average yield of 102 bushels per acre. This year’s estimate is 130 bushels.  

Lee said some farmers are expecting their fields to flip flop this year with the traditionally better yielding bottom ground giving way to the upper ground fields. Excessive spring rains delayed or caused many bottomland fields to have to be replanted while consistent rains have aided upper ground fields.

In Daviess County, one of the top corn and soybean producing counties in the state, crops are looking good despite a hectic year.

“We rolled the dice and a lot of late corn was planted but with cooler temperatures and plenty of moisture, it’s paying off,” said Clint Hardy, Daviess County Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.

Weather conditions the past two weeks were more like June than August when hot, dry days can reduce pollination, Hardy said. With many of the late-planted cornfields pollinating, those weather conditions were perfect, he said.

Because of late planting and cooler than normal conditions, there is some concern that corn could face frost damage. If a frost occurs prior to the black layer stage in corn, it can hurt yields, Lee said. Some of the earliest planted corn along the Tennessee-Kentucky line is still a week away from black layer, he said.

Soybeans are also behind in terms of growth, but Lee said the fields he’s seen are coming on well. If they continue to receive timely rains, the beans should have good yields.

Soybeans also are forecast by the Kentucky Agricultural Statistics Service to yield better than a year ago with a statewide average of 36 bushels forecast. Overall, soybean production will be down because of a 13 percent reduction in planted acres in 2003. This is the smallest acreage since 1988.

Kentucky’s record yields for both corn and soybeans were set three years ago at 142 bushels and 40 bushels, respectively.


Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278
Source: Chad Lee, 859-257-3203; Clint Hardy, 270-685-8480