The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ohio county yield averages for 2013 corn and soybean production are out.
Although they are estimates, they will be the numbers used to compare other years and to determine government and insurance payments.
As anticipated, Hancock County had a record yield average for corn and an OK yield average for soybeans in 2013. Corn averaged 181.2 bushels per acre and soybeans averaged 45.5 bushels.
Corn yields broke the record set in 2011 by 10.1 bushels.
It was also a record corn year for total production in the county: 17.3 million bushels, 4.2 million bushels more than 2011.
Hancock County corn yields were about 4 bushels per acre more than the state average.
Soybean yields were 4.9 bushels per acre less than the record set in 2011, and 4.2 bushels less than last year.
Total soybean production was 5.7 million bushels, the lowest year since 2008. Hancock County yield average was 3.5 bushels per acre less than the state average.
Hancock has been in the top 10 corn-producing counties in the state for the past three years, and it was seventh in 2013.
Other top counties in our region this past year included Wood, third; Hardin, sixth; and Seneca, ninth.
Hancock again is one of the top 10 soybean-producing counties in the state. The last time it was not in the top 10 was 2002.
It dropped from second place in 2012 to seventh in 2013. Other top counties in our region this past year included Wood, third; Putnam, fourth; Seneca, sixth; and Hardin, 11th.
Record corn yields can be attributed to good planting conditions, proper weather for pollination, low disease pressure, and moderate summer temperatures.
Dry conditions early encouraged deeper root development, which allowed the corn to get to moisture when conditions became dry later in the season.
Conditions were more challenging for soybeans.
Dry conditions early caused uneven germination and emergence. Saturated field conditions in early July weakened root systems. Some were weakened enough to not overcome the shortage of soil moisture in August.
The wet conditions in early July also affected the 2013 wheat crop. Wet, saturated field conditions delayed harvest.
During this delay, a July storm with strong winds caused mature grain to shatter from the heads and prematurely fall to the ground. Many farmers estimated they lost around 10 percent of the grain in the field from head shattering.
Average wheat yields for the county were 65.8 bushels per acre, 7.6 bushels less than the 2012 average and 4.2 bushels less than the state average.
However, Hancock was still one of the top 10 wheat-producing counties in the state, although dropping from fourth place in 2012 to seventh place last year.
Adjacent counties were also on the top 10 wheat-production list: Wood, first; Putnam, third; and Seneca, eighth.
Hancock produced approximately a half-million more bushels of wheat in 2013 than 2012.
About 28,000 wheat acres were planted for the 2013 crop, 12,000 to 15,000 less than the historical number, but considerably more than the 21,000 planted for the 2012 crop.
Hancock County had the lowest acres of planted soybeans in 2013 (126,500) since 2008, about 11,000 less than 2012. Hancock County had 96,000 acres planted in corn last year, about 1,500 more acres than 2012.
Wheat acres for 2014 have already been planted and farmers are anxious how the winter may have affected stands. Farmers still have five to seven weeks to decide whether they plant the remaining acres to corn or soybeans.
Grain prices have dropped considerably since this time last year. There is also a new federal farm bill in place. Input costs, expected grain price, and the new farm bill will determine which crops will be planted in 2014.
However, weather will still determine the outcome at the end of the season, as always.
Lentz is extension educator for agriculture and natural resources for The Ohio State University Extension Service in Hancock County. He can be reached at 419-422-3851 or via email at
Lentz can be heard with Vaun Wickerham on weekdays at 6:35 a.m. on WFIN, at 5:43 a.m. on WKXA-FM, and at 5:28 a.m. at 106.3 The Fox.