Fall harvests progressing: Weather presents some corn challenges
A Sept. 18 crop report prepared by the National Agricultural Statistics Service notes that 56 percent of Virginia’s corn raised for grain and 94 percent of corn raised for silage had been harvested by Sept. 17. That’s in addition to 67 percent of apples and 73 percent of flue-cured tobacco.
NASS forecast Sept. 12 that Virginia’s cotton production will be 190,000 bales, up 90 percent from 2016, and peanut production will be 116 million pounds, up 49 percent from last year. The soybean harvest, which will begin later this fall, is forecast at 23 million bushels, up 7 percent from 2016.
“Scattered rains in August provided enough moisture to improve yield prospects,” said Herman Ellison, Virginia state statistician for NASS. “Cotton, peanut and soybean yield forecasts all increased from last month. It appears that the crop season overall will be about average, but some crops will do quite well and others will disappoint.”
Favorable weather conditions allowed many Virginia farmers to plant corn earlier than usual this year. Robert Harper, grain manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, noted that “there are a lot of producers east of Richmond who are going to be done” harvesting corn in the next several days.
Ironically, Harper added, “now that the combine has caught up to the planter, the later-maturing corn is not drying down” to ideal moisture levels. “In many cases we’ve lost ground” due to damp and humid conditions over the past three weeks.
He said some producers have grain dryers to handle too-wet corn. Others choose to leave corn in the field longer. At some point, though, late corn may have to wait because soybeans are ready for harvesting.
Soybeans, Harper explained, degrade faster than corn when left in the field. “You can’t wait on beans.”