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Yield Records Set by Half of Iowa Counties


The Crop Production report published Jan. 12 by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) showed record high average yields were set in Iowa for both corn and soybeans.

View yield-by-county maps here.

Based on a December survey of 3,000 farmers across the state, the average corn yield of 192 bushels per acre was 6 percent higher than the previous record high yield of 181 bu./acre set in 2004 and tied in 2009.

Meanwhile, Iowa’s 2015 soybean crop yielded an average 56.5 bu./acre, nearly 8 percent more than the previous record of 52.5 bu./acre set back in 2005.

To determine county-level numbers, NASS collected information from an additional 6,100 farmers during December and January to supplement the information collected for the state-level survey.

These statistical surveys are designed so all farmers throughout the state have a chance to be selected, although larger farmers are selected to participate at higher rate than smaller farmers.

NASS requires survey responses from at least 30 producers in each county or yield reports for at least 25 percent of the harvested acreage in a county before the county totals can be published. NASS receives 50 or more farmer reports for many Iowa counties.

In addition to this farmer-reported acreage and yield survey data, NASS uses aggregated certified acreage data from the FSA, insured acreage data from USDA’s Risk Management Agency and the NASS satellite-based acreage data to help determine planted and harvested acreage for each county.

Final survey results showed more than half of Iowa’s 99 counties had a record-high corn yield in 2015 with 22 counties posting an average yield that surpassed 200 bu./acre.

Four of the five highest-yielding corn counties were in the Northwest District. Cherokee led all counties with a county-wide average of 209.6 bu./acre. Pocahontas, O’Brien, Sac, and Osceola counties rounded out the top five with yields all above 204 bushels.

For soybeans, just over half of the counties set a record-high yield in 2015, and 11 counties averaged more than 60 bu./acre, led by Sioux County at 64.1 bu./acre. Cherokee (62.7), O’Brien (62.6), Lyon (61.1) and Scott (61.1) counties rounded out the top five. Yields of less than 50 bu./acre were recorded in 12 Southern Iowa counties.

The county numbers do more than just settle arguments about which county had the highest or lowest average yield. They are used extensively to administer the federal farm safety net and crop insurance programs as well as develop or improve insurance products.

Specifically, under the 2014 Farm Bill, FSA uses the NASS county yield data to calculate Agriculture Risk Coverage-County (ARC-CO) benchmark revenues and crop year county revenues.

If the actual county crop revenue falls below the ARC-CO guaranteed revenue for a given year, an ARC-CO payment is triggered for that crop/county.

So, the NASS county yield, along with the crop’s U.S. marketing year average price (MYA), are used to help determine payments for this program.

NASS county estimates also help provide the T-yields farmers use for insurance purposes when actual yields are not available and provide the data needed to make the trend-adjusted yield endorsement available, which allows producers to increase their insurance coverage.

Additional uses include determining payments for group risk insurance policies, determining FSA county loan rates for the marketing loan program and administering disaster assistance and conservation programs.

Source: Iowa Farmer Today

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