The Herald Bulletin

March 27, 2011

County farmers surprised by crop yields

Weather extremes produce decent yields, drive market

By April Abernathy
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Although wet spring weather lead to a dry summer in 2010, Madison County farmers say crop yields were relatively good.

Mike Shuter of Shuter Sunset Farms said it was amazing that crops did so well.

“When it starts wet, roots aren’t deep,” Shuter said. “Then it gets dry and plants aren’t rooted deep enough.”

Much of the good ground was too wet for spring planting, causing the poor ground to yield more in the end.

He attributed a lot of 2010’s yield success to newer tilling techniques.

”Not tilling anything more than a 4-inch to 6-inch strip helps in any weather,” Shuter said.

Dusty Forrer of Neese farms said the application of fungicide helped with better crop yields as well.

“It really seemed to boost our yields,” Forrer said. “However, I don’t think we’ll see as big of a yield response every year.”

Because yields were less than expected nationally, according to Forrer, increased demand drove the market.

“Commodity prices have been strong since harvest,” he said. “While commodity prices look good, it also takes more money to raise a crop.”

Shuter agreed, saying pricing was better and continued to get better.

“Compared to 2008, it’s about as good price-wise as it’s been in a while. It gives us a chance to replace older equipment and get updated in order to do a little better farming,” Shuter said.

The trouble may come in rising oil prices that have a direct relationship with crop pricing on the consumer end.

“When one goes up, corn goes up,” John Richwine, County Commissioner and farmer, said. “A farmer also ends up paying more for fertilizer.”

His outlook for 2011 was bright, saying farmers had the option to lock contracts in early for better pricing.

Although optimistic for 2011, all three men noted that the weather would be the ultimate determining factor.

Shuter said weather prospects were calling for a cold, wet spring.

“It won’t get stuff off to a good start, so we may not get good yields,” he said. “The plants might not take off.”

Weather has always been an uncontrollable factor in farming.

“You can do everything right in raising a crop, but if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate it can really affect your end results,” Forrer said. “2011 will hopefully be a good year for agriculture. If the commodity market remains strong, we should be profitable. However, we have a long way to go to know for sure.”

Contact April Abernathy, 640-4861, april.abernathy@heraldbulletin.com.