Recent rains provide only mild relief for area farmers

By WEEK Producer

August 17, 2012 Updated Aug 17, 2012 at 6:41 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Twice already this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has scaled back projections for corn and soybean yields because of the drought in the Midwest.

And while central Illinois farmers have welcomed the recent rains, the manager of the Peoria County Farm Bureau says they may only hold limited benefit.

"Last year, Peoria County averaged around 160 to 170 bushels of corn per acre," said Patrick Kirchhofer. "This year, on average, it looks like it'll be in the 130 bushel range."

That's about a 17 percent drop from a year ago.

In Morton, farmer John Ackerman is also expecting a disappointing harvest.

"We had more rain yesterday than we've had in 6 or 8 weeks," said Ackerman.

And that may have saved his soybeans.

"I'm going to have a below average bean crop," Ackerman said, "but I don't believe I'm going to have a disaster crop like I thought maybe I would have had."

Believe it or not a farm can have a healthy corn crop and another one that's under-grown in the same field. The contradiction is a microcosm of a geographically larger phenomenon.

Some local farms, located in small pockets of the state where more timely rains have fallen, will experience a better than average harvest. With the drought forcing the price of a bushel of corn up from $5 in the spring to as high as $8 now a few lucky farmers will actually have a good year.

"Its going to be a windfall for some farmers and for others its really going to be a challenge for them," said Kirchhofer.

But they'll continue to plow ahead.