In its Sept. Crop Production report, issued last Wednesday (Sept. 12), Wisconsin's corn yield dropped by two bushels per acre from last month's forecast.
Reporting to members of the policy board for the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Bob Battaglia, the state's agricultural statistician, said when his staff sent in their report they predicted a final harvest yield of 128 bushels, but officials adjusted it to 130 bushels per acre, which is down two bushels from last month's forecast.
That total is 26 bushels lower than what farmers harvested last season.
State agriculture secretary Ben Brancel said it's very likely that the amount of corn acreage harvested for grain will go down this year as livestock farmers chop extra corn silage to try to make enough feed for their herds.
"It's unbelievable some of the corn that's not even chest high. It still has some ears on it and that corn is being chewed up by choppers," Brancel said.
Battaglia said the status of the corn crop is very variable depending on where the fields are in the state. In some areas of the state farmers have begun round-baling corn, he said.
In a year that started out early and with unbridled enthusiasm, farmers are facing bitter harvests. Battaglia noted that the corn that was planted the earliest was hurt the most in many parts of southern Wisconsin. It arrived at the tasseling stage early when there was no moisture and thus was unable to produce grain.
Later planted corn, say many observers, is looking better because the tassel and silk arrived at the same time as some rain that fell.
Battaglia noted that northern parts of the state fared much better, with early planting and plentiful moisture in the early part of the summer. Yields in those areas are statistically raising the state average.
In the Midwest, he said, Minnesota's yield went up from last month's forecast from 155-156 bushels per acre, but that was the only good news in the report.
The Illinois average went down by five bushels to 110 bushels per acre. Indiana farmers are expected to average 100 bushels, Iowa 144 bushels, Kansas 70 bushels and Missouri 75 bushels per acre.
Total corn production in Wisconsin is expected to be about 449 million bushels, down 13 percent from last year.
Nationally, Battaglia said, corn production is forecast to wind up at 10.7 billion bushels, down less than 1 percent from the August forecast, but down 13 percent from the 2011 final production figure.
Based on yield surveys, field visits and 13,000 producer interviews the National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated that nationally the corn yield will be about 122.8 bushels per acre, down only 0.6 bushel from the August report, but 24.4 bushels below last year's production.
If the prediction holds true it would be the lowest average yield in the United States since 1995. The report indicated the number of acres harvested for grain would stand at 87.4 million acres, the same as last month's forecast.
The state crop report showed that 38 percent of the corn crop has been chopped for silage, far more than the 13 percent that had been harvested for silage last year at this time. Some farmers who are testing their corn silage in southern Wisconsin have found that it is dryer than it looks.
While some stalks may still be very green, the plants have already dried down substantially.
Wisconsin's Sept. 1 mark for soybeans remains unchanged from last month's report at 36 bushels per acre, just above the national average of 35.3 bushels per acre. That national average is down 0.8 bushels from last month.
The Wisconsin soybean forecast is 10 bushels down from 2011 production. State production is expected to reach 60.5 million bushels, 18 percent below last year's final production.
Nationally farmers are expected to harvest 2.63 billion bushels, down 14 percent from last year.
Battaglia explained that though the corn forecast was lower in this report, the market had expected that so the price dipped slightly. The soybean forecast also went down, but was down more than expected so the price of that commodity rose.
The September Crop Report is an estimate of yield and production of the major row crops based on conditions through the first of the month.
Yield surveys were conducted in the major producing states that account for 75 percent of U.S. production to arrive at the report.
The ag board met Sept. 12 at the headquarters of Organic Valley in La Farge.