Crops on track with expectationsPublished 10:19am Wednesday, August 22, 2012
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
COURTLAND—Although July was among one of the hottest on record, the effect on agriculture both regionally and statewide has not been devastating.
So far, there’s mostly positive news locally.
“I hate to make yield predictions after last year’s potential was cut by the hurricane and subsequent rainfall,” said Chris Drake, agriculture and natural resource agent for Southampton County. “That being said, the potential for cotton, peanuts and soybeans is definitely above average right now.”
Hurricane Irene destroyed about 20 to 25 percent of the cotton in Western Tidewater. A bumper crop was expected. The Aug. 27 storm dumped 12 inches of rain with 60-mph winds.
Rainfall this year has been scattered and highly variable across the county and the region, but most areas have had enough to keep the crops growing without undue stress, Drake added.
“Cotton has very good potential, and barring another disaster like 2011, yields could average in excess of 900 pounds per acre,” Drake said.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services recently reported that the cotton yield is expected to average 914 pounds per acre, up 238 pounds from last year’s 676 pounds per acre. If realized, production would be 160,000 bales, down one percent from last year. Producers expect to harvest 84,000 acres in 2012, down 27 percent from last year.
Peanuts have very good growth and look very promising at this point as well, Drake said.
“Disease will have to be prevented for the next month or so to realize full yield potential,” he said.
VDACS estimates that peanut producers will harvest 20,000 acres, a 4,000-acre increase from the previous year. Yield is forecast at 3,300 pounds per acre, down 500 pounds from last year. Resulting production will be 66 million pounds, up nine percent from 2011’s production.
Soybeans have good canopy growth and are putting on pods well due to adequate moisture, Drake said.
“There is still a lot of growing season left for soybeans, but yield potential looks good for those as well,” he said.
VDACS anticipates 540,000 acres of soybeans with an average yield of 34 bushels per acre, down five bushels per acre from last year. Production is expected to total 18.4 million bushels, down 14 percent from last year.
Corn has suffered here as well as the Midwest.
“Corn has unfortunately been harmed by very high temperatures in late June and early July, but some areas in the county have respectable corn crops,” said Drake. “Overall, the corn yields will be average, but in areas that received rainfall during early July will see yields on non-irrigated fields in the 110- to 130 -bushel range.”
Virginia’s corn yields are expected to be 91 bushels per acre, down 27 bushels per acre from last year. Production is estimated at 31.9 million bushels, down 21 percent from 2011.
The VDACS reported that harvested acres are estimated at 350,000. Corn production nationwide is forecast at 10.8 billion bushels, down 13 percent from 2011 and the lowest production since 2006. Based on conditions as of Aug. 1, yields are expected to average 123.4 bushels per acre, down 23.8 bushels from 2011. If realized, this will be the lowest average yield since 1995.