Corn harvest update in Western Kentucky

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By Rick Greenwell

Corn Harvest
Many of you may be interested in how the harvest is going in Western Kentucky.  Remember now that parts of Western Kentucky are three weeks and some parts two weeks ahead of us. This information is from Dr. Chad Lee, one of our grain specialist at the UK College of Ag.
According to an August NASS report, Kentucky corn production is predicted to be the lowest since 1983 at 96.9 million bushels, down 46 percent from the previous crop. While acreage is up, expected yields are down significantly from the previous year. Yield was estimated at 65 bushels per acre, down 74 bushels from the 2011 level. Harvest is about 40 percent complete statewide.

Bob White, who farms with his family in Union County, has harvested half of their corn crop and reports yields are the worst he has seen since he began farming in 1974. Some 100-acre fields have produced less than 20 bushels per acre. Irrigated fields are seeing about 120 bushels per acre, well below what was expected. He predicts his farm’s final average yield to be about 85 bushels per acre. Thank goodness Bob is an optimist.

“Despite the drought, we are still in good shape,” he says. “We would have been better off if we had not sold early, but that is farming. Who knew corn was going to $8?”

Bob said things looked so good in March and April that they started selling corn at $5.50 a bushel and are now having to deliver their contracts. They opted to honor their contracts and believe they will be able to meet them, but won’t have much left over. The family has quit buying equipment, hoping to stretch life out of machinery another year when they would normally trade. He is thankful they are running the business with a cushion.

“We saved up so we won’t have to alter plans for next year,” he said. “In farming you need to prepare for that ‘rainy day,’ or lack thereof.”

Last week we shared an interview with Sam Hancock, a Fulton farmer who talked with NCGA’s Off the Cob. With corn harvest nearing completion, Hancock found that his yields were a bit higher than he had anticipated. Also spared detrimental aflatoxin damage, he looks toward soybean harvest and wheat planting in the coming weeks.

The White’s, the Hancock’s and many other Kentucky farmers will persevere. We will continue to pray for the best possible outcome this year, and a much better year in 2013.
Black Buzzards
Many Kentuckians are very upset about the invasion of the black vultures.  Most of us call them buzzards, but they’re not. Many of us in ag understand their threat and damage caused to our livestock. However, the federal government does not think they’re a problem. We have a chance right now to assist in an effort to change their thinking. The following paragraph is from an email I received last week from a fellow agent.

 I just received a request from Mr. Joe Cain, Director of National Affairs and Political Education with Farm Bureau for photos of black vulture predation on livestock. As was mentioned at the LYNC training, documentation was needed to help make changes in our laws. If you have producers that have pictures they are willing to share, we may be able to take a step in the right direction to come up with a solution for a very difficult problem. The photos need to show the black vultures in a predatory fashion that includes the livestock in the photo. He also needs pictures of roosting or congregating with large numbers of black vultures. Please send those to me and I will share those with Mr. Cain. 

So if you can help in this important effort, please take some pictures of what was in the above paragraph and get them to us at the extension office. We’re in the fall calving season pretty big so there should be an opportunity to get good shots. If you have questions about this request, please contact me at (859) 336-7741.