Virginia growers expecting good harvest

Virginia Farmers who grow corn, soybeans, cotton, hay and peanuts are expecting a successful fall harvest. And that’s good news for producers who have been dealing with lower commodity prices and higher input costs.

“I feel pretty positive about this year’s harvest,” said David Black, a corn, soybean and wheat grower in Charles City County. “We cut some of the best corn we’ve ever cut, and although we haven’t harvested the soybeans yet they look good.”

Based on the latest forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service, as of Oct. 1 corn, soybean, hay, cotton, burley tobacco and peanut yields are all expected to be higher this fall than in 2008. “Yields are higher because we’ve had much better growing conditions than last year,” said David Coleman, grain manager for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

And that’s helpful, because prices paid to farmers for corn and soybeans have dropped from their record-high last year, said Black, who plants 500 acres of corn and 400 acres of soybeans each year. “With the drop in prices, the extra bushels certainly help compensate.”

Alfalfa hay production is expected to yield 3.4 tons per acre, which is up 26 percent from last year. Corn yields are forecast at an average 128 bushels per acres, up 20 bushels from 2008.

Soybeans are anticipated at 37 bushels per acre, which is 5 bushels per acre greater than last year.

According to NASS, cotton producers expect to harvest 64,000 acres with an average yield of 900 pounds per acre, which is up 6 percent from last year.

Peanut yields are forecasted at 3,400 pounds per acre, which is 50 pounds more per acre then in 2008.

Along with the increases in yield are slight decreases in inputs, which have been on the rise the past few growing seasons, Coleman said. Fertilizer prices are dropping some, Black said, which helps lower input costs. 
“Every little bit helps.”

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