Everyone understands that the ongoing drought is bad for agriculture. But just what is at stake for the area if crops fail?
Analysis of the numbers suggests area losses will total millions of dollars worth of crops for southeast Iowa farmers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture uses CropScape to track what crops are planted and where. The system can break down crops by county and display them on a detailed map or break the list out for specific numbers.
According to CropScape, the three biggest crops in terms of acreage in counties covered by CNHI newspapers are corn, soybeans and non-alfalfa hay. The papers, located in Centerville, Oskaloosa, Pella, Knoxville and Ottumwa, represent nearly 1.7 million acres for those three crops alone.
Corn is the biggest local crop, with 635,693 acres devoted to it in 2011. Soybeans come in second, with 547,150 acres. Hay trails with 285,012 acres.
Corn projections are revealing. In June, the USDA forecast a national yield of 166 bushels per acre. For southeast Iowa, that would have meant a yield of 105.5 million bushels of corn.
But this month the USDA cut yield forcasts. Under the new forecasts the local yield drops 12 percent, to 92.8 million bushels of corn. Soybeans tell a similar story, with area yields predicted to drop from 24 million bushels produced to 22.2 million bushels.
With prices for corn and soybeans up, farmers who somehow manage to produce decent crops will see strong returns. But the drier it gets, the less likely those decent crops become.
By the numbers:
Figures are acres per crop in 2011. Source: CropScape