Due to rains and flooding this season, 30 percent of Pettis County’s soybean crop remains unplanted, leaving $13 million in “foregone revenue” for the area, University of Missouri Extension Agriculture Business Specialist Brent Carpenter said Tuesday. Pettis wheat has fared no better.
“We are mostly worried about the soybean crop,” he said. “In our best estimate about 30 percent of the soybeans did not get planted in Pettis County due to the wet weather. For us that’s close to 30,000 acres.”
He added that it was getting too late to plant soybeans for the season.
“If you just looked at foregone revenue on that, normally we have about 90,000 acres of soybeans,” he said. “If we say on an average yield on what we think the price is going to be, we’re in the neighborhood of $13 million. We will sell $13 million less soybeans out of the county.”
He added that the amount doesn’t include the soybeans that will most likely suffer lower yields due to being planted late.
“They look poor, they’re off to a poor start,” Carpenter said. “It’s a mix, we have some soybeans that look really good for this time of year but we have way more than usual that look really poor. They are short and yellow and spotty and stunted, and that’s a harder estimate. A lot of it depends on the weather we get from here on out.”
Carpenter said they are hoping there’s not an early frost this fall.
“We know when you plant soybeans after the middle of July, you are probably looking at a 50 percent reduction in positional yield,” he noted. “That would be the best they could hope for right now. If it turns off hot and dry in August, and you have plants out there that are stunted, they are not going to do well.
“If we get some regular rains, and some heat, they’ll come on and hit depth,” he said. “If frost is delayed so they can grow an extra two weeks, they can kind of make up for some of that late planting. But it doesn’t look good now on a large portion of the beans that were planted late.”
Carpenter said soybeans are Pettis County’s “major commodity;” its loss will affect many local farmers and trickle down into everyday life.
“Everything affects the economy,” he said. “That $13 million number, that’s sales that we won’t have in this county and that means from the farm business management standpoint our prices are below grade right now anyway. If it wasn’t for crop insurance we’d have some serious financial stress for the farms. When you don’t have a crop there’s a lot of things you don’t buy.”
At this point corn is looking good, he added, but that is “spotty.”
“They are worried about disease pressure, because of the high humidity, and temperatures, you get all kinds of blights,” he said.
He added that he didn’t want to over-exaggerate, but it is a real concern.
“We don’t have the routine depth, so if it does get hot and dry …” he said. “The soils have been so waterlogged the plants have not sent down roots. They are more susceptible to getting blown over … the plant will lay down before the combines can come through and get it.
“The corn is kind of critical now and the rain is actually helping it, because we’re going into pollination and the kernel filling stage, and that’s when we like to have moisture,” he added.
Carpenter said due to the wet weather, wheat has suffered and much of it is mytotoxin contaminated.
“That’s a real concern,” he said.
Wheat is tested for mytotoxin, which is a class of fungi that is mold-like, he added.
“It is bad news,” he said. “(Wheat) is almost a total loss, or a better way to say that is, almost all of it has problems with mycotoxins.
“They have to keep that out of the human consumption pipeline and it really lowers the price of the wheat growers standpoint. They are getting severely docked for that.”
Instead of being sold for human consumption, Pettis County wheat will have to be sold as forage for ruminate animals; cattle, goats and sheep. Carpenter said instead of selling wheat for $5 a bushel “they might take it for a $1.”
“We normally don’t think of wheat as a livestock feed; sometimes we do, and this is the year that it’s going to be where it has to wind up,” he said. “Or it won’t be used for anything.”
He added that he saw many wheat fields while driving through the county Monday and the farmers “hadn’t bothered to combine them.”
“They made the decision to just let it stand,” he added. “They didn’t think it was worth harvesting.”
Carpenter said last year was a “phenomenal” year for Pettis crops.
“That makes us feel even worse this year,” he added. ‘“That’s the circle, nothing is guaranteed.”
According to a press release from the office of Gov. Jay Nixon, 60 percent of Missouri farmers haven’t been able to report their acreage for crop insurance to the United States Department of Agriculture due to the rains and floods this season. The deadline was June 15. Nixon asked USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for an extension, which was denied. Nixon subsequently asked Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to file a lawsuit ”to block the USDA from enforcing the deadline.”
“Because of those reports, the governor asked for the extension of the deadline so our farmers could get the report into the USDA,” Scott Holste, press secretary for the governor, said Tuesday by phone. “Whatever happens from here I would have to defer to the Attorney General’s Office.”
On Tuesday, Nixon requested that 70 of Missouri 114 counties be declared federal disaster areas due to continuing rainfall, tornadoes and flooding. Pettis County is included in the request.
“Communities across the state have been hit with extensive response and rebuilding expenses,” Nixon said in the release. “I’m asking that federal assistance be available to help with that effort.”
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.