Farmers seeing record prices for corn, beans

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By Steve Doyle

John Hammonds has had a pretty good year with his corn and soybeans – and that’s an understatement.

Hammonds, who farms about 200 acres of corn, mostly on Mulberry Pike near Eminence, said that in drought-laden 2008, his crop produced about 100 bushels of corn per acre.

But with the help of plenty of rain – and some experimenting – that same plot of land has produced 260 bushels per acre this year. You can do the math on that type increase.

Hammonds’ production is typical of Shelby County farmers who raise corn and soybeans, key contributors to a phenomenal crop in the state this year.

Coming off the drought, both crops have flourished, and the United States Department of Agriculture continues to increase its forecasts for the year and suggest record numbers.

For instance, corn for grain production in Kentucky this year is forecast to be 180.8 million bushels, improving by 2 percent on the USDA’s estimate in October and by 19 percent on the output in 2008. The yield is a record 160 bushels per acre.

And soybeans, at 64.9 million bushels, are up 5 percent from October and 36 percent from last year. The yield is expected to be 46 bushels per acre, up a staggering 11.5 bushel increase from 2008.

Shelby County’s rainfall in 2008 was well below a 10-year average and needed nearly 6 inches in December to reach 51.2 inches for the year.

In 2009, that total was surpassed – by 2.5 inches – at the end of October, and that’s helped the crops reach those outstanding levels.

 “The rain is what it is,” Hammonds said. “I do mine [crops] according to UK on recommendations on fertilization and populization and all of that. It’s done with anticipation of a high yield, and you have to have plenty of water.”

Hammonds has also done a test plot with a variety of seeds from Miles Farm Supplies, and he said vendors have told him his yield on the test plot is the highest in the state.

Though Hammonds doesn’t have comparative figures on his 50-acre soybean crop, he said it yielded about 69 bushels per acre, which has far surpassed the projected state average.

 “I’ve been combining for other people,” Hammonds said, “and I’ve never seen yields like I’m seeing. I did a field of double crops, and I know it did 40 bushels per acre. And that’s double crops. That’s unreal.”