The latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows over half (53%) of Iowa’s corn and one-third of the state’s soybeans are in “poor to very poor” condition.
Guthrie Burge has nearly 500 acres of corn and soybeans near Mount Vernon in eastern Iowa. Like many Midwest farmers, he’s trying to salvage something from the drought-damaged corn by turning it into silage. “We started chopping last Tuesday,” Burge said as he surveyed one corn field.
“Of course, there’s a sand vein at the top of the hill…there’s nothing there. The corn’s dry and there’s nothing but barren stalks. Down in the flat where it’s a little greener, there are ears, but they’re sporadic. It’s actually worse than what I thought it was.” Last year, the same field yielded 190 bushels of corn per acre.
This year, Burge is chopping corn stalks to supplement hay for his beef cattle. “I figured we could at least salvage some silage and utilize the whole plant instead of trying to combine it and only getting 50 bushels (per acre),” Burge said.
The USDA report notes 25% of Iowa’s soybean crop is in “good to excellent” condition. Burge said his soybeans took a turn for the worse in the July heat. “There’s beans there, but there are only a few pods on every node,” Burge said. “It’s not what I expected in April and May.”
The USDA notes many farmers are hoping recent rains will revive the still-green soybean plants – producing more soybeans in the pods. Both corn and soybean fields in Iowa are maturing faster than normal.