Extension Service coordinators in Colbert and Lauderdale counties agree this year's corn crop will provide some good yields, but they will vary depending on where the cornfields were located.

Farmers have been out in their fields for several weeks harvesting their crops while the weather is dry.

"I think we're probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 percent finished, maybe a little higher than that," Colbert County Extension Coordinator Danny McWilliams said Monday.

Grain elevators are full, he said, which is an indicator of a good year with high yields.

McWilliams said farmers are reporting yields of 170 to 200 bushels per acre, while Dealona Bozeman, the grain originator at the Alabama Farmers Coop in Florence, said farmers are reporting yields of 180 to 190 bushels per acre.

Bozeman said a few farmers are showing yields over 200 bushels per acre and some are nearing 300 bushels per acre.

"I think overall the crop has been very good," McWilliams said.

Lauderdale County Extension Coordinator Heidi Tilenius said she's getting mixed reactions from farmers, depending on where they live.

"Initial reports from the west end of the county is it's better this year than last year," Tilenius said.

She spoke to Lauderdale County farmer Larry Walker, who lives near the bend of the river area. She said Walker told her the quality of his corn is outstanding. "The good rainfall made his grain denser and heavier," she said.

Tilenius said corn farmers with the best crops got the rainfall they needed in June and July following a dry spell in May.

Not every farmer is happy with what they're seeing, at least so far. One of them is Buster Thornton, who along with his sons owns Thornton Family Farms in eastern Lauderdale County.

“We’re in the process of harvesting now and this has been the worst year I’ve ever farmed in terms of my corn crops,” Thornton said. “It was wet all spring, then dry through the summer. “Amazingly, some of the crops yielded pretty good, in certain parts.”

Thornton farms in Lauderdale, Colbert and Lawrence counties. He said the bigger corn crops were in Lawrence County.

“We plant it and then just hope for the best,” he said. “We planted 1,700 acres altogether, and I’d say we yielded about 35 percent.”

“The ideal condition for corn is plenty of rain. This poor yield sets us back for sure. We’re rotating with cotton and soybeans. We sell mostly to the chicken plants around here, like Pilgrim’s Pride.”

Bozeman said the farmers she's interacted with said they're seeing an "exceptional crop" that might not be the best year, but may be the next to the best year.

"Their yields are exceptionally high and it's good quality," Bozeman said. "I have not talked to one farm that has had an off year."

Tilenius said another farmer from the Killen area said this should be one of the area's best corn crops ever.

McWilliams said some of the best corn will come from western Colbert County and the bend of the river area in Lauderdale County due to the rainfall.

"The corn in the western end of the county, I've been hearing, is stronger than the corn in the eastern part of the county," he said.

Corn in irrigated fields will also have better yields than non-irrigated fields.

The only downside to the 2019 crop is prices. 

"In my opinion, grain prices are low," McWilliams said. "It's hard to make a living with these prices."

He said as of Monday, December corn was selling for $3.73 a bushel.

"I consider that to be dirt cheap," McWilliams said.

He said corn prices have been steady for years, while input costs, equipment costs and other costs have increased.

He said the high yields will help offset the low prices for the commodity.

Tilenius said farmers are working 12-hour days trying to get their crops out of the field while the weather is conducive. 

She also urges motorists to be patient and aware of farm equipment moving along county roads and highways like U.S. 43 and 72. 

The majority of corn grown in the Shoals is sold to poultry feed manufacturers, officials said.


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