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Kane corn harvest not great, but better than elsewhere

Joe White isn't necessarily happy with how much corn and soybeans he harvested from his fields this fall.

But White, who farms near Elburn, said he also realizes how fortunate Kane County farmers have been this year.

"Overall, for us, it was an OK year," said White, president of the Kane County Farm Bureau. "But you go not too far to the north, or to the south, and it's a different story."

Throughout summer, farmers battled hot temperatures and dry conditions, contributing to a severe drought that damaged crops locally and in much of the Midwest.

With the harvest almost complete, growers and grain distributors have now begun to place firm estimates on just how extensive that damage was.

In Kane County, the summer drought appears to have translated into crop losses of about 15 to 20 percent, compared to previous years.

Scott Meyer, grain merchandiser for local agricultural services company Elburn Cooperative, estimated typical Kane County crop yields this year of about 120 to 130 bushels an acre for corn and about 45 to 47 bushels an acre for soybeans.

Typically, he said, Kane County growers expect to reap about 160 to 170 bushels an acre of corn and about 50 to 55 bushels an acre for soybeans.

He and White said the growing conditions in Kane County varied widely based on location and soil type.

"If a particular field caught a shower at the right time, it made quite a difference," White said.

That was evident in other parts of the state that received significantly less rainfall or that featured less rich soils during the pollination periods than Kane County.

Although the U.S. Agriculture Department will issue a crop production report later this week, as of early October, the USDA estimated Illinois corn yields stood at about 98 bushels an acre statewide, down about 38 percent from 2011.

Meyer said he did not expect any significant improvement in coming reports.

"Things are far worse in other parts of the state," Meyer said. "Our crop locally amounted to something, anyway."

White said his field's yields were down, but noted that the quality of the local crop was "very good," which was "surprising."

Meyer and White said farmers have begun turning their attention to next year, with a particular wish for significant rainfall yet in November and in the early spring 2013 to erase some of the soil's moisture deficit.

"No one's going to be cussing any rain, that's for sure," Meyer said.

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