Home This year’s Virginia corn harvest is a bin-buster

This year’s Virginia corn harvest is a bin-buster


As combines roared across Virginia cornfields this fall, farmers enjoyed good weather and great yields.

farm-droughtAs of the first week of November, 94 percent of the state’s corn harvest was complete. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest crop survey estimates Virginia corn yields will average 145 bushels an acre, a 29 percent increase from last year’s drought-stricken crop. Soybean and cotton predictions are down from earlier this year, while peanut prospects have gone up after a dry August.

“A good corn crop is certainly something that boosts everybody’s spirits, and I think everybody at this point is feeling pretty good,” said Keith Balderson, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Essex County. He spends much of his time advising farmers on how to improve their yields and protect the environment. But one thing no-one controls is the weather, and this year brought good weather for corn.

“Overall the rainfall in June and July was very beneficial,” Balderson said. “It did have a negative impact for small grains, because the harvest was delayed and the quality of our harvested wheat and barley was very poor.”

Corn is an essential crop in the nation’s farm economy, and the U.S. corn crop also is expected to be better this year.

While an increased yield might seem like it would result in lower food prices, market specialists note that, when adjusted for inflation, U.S. food prices haven’t gone up for years.

“Its portion of the Consumer Price Index has remained very steady, at about 14 to 15 percent of the index,” said Jonah Bowles, senior agriculture market analyst forVirginia Farm Bureau Federation. “The food price index can go up, the index can go down, but food costs as a percentage of that index have remained very, very steady.”

There are many other costs associated with producing food, Bowles said.

“From planting the crop to harvesting to processing, energy costs have gone up. And we’re also seeing, in many cases, labor costs are going up. Those factors have a greater influence on our food prices at the grocery store than the price received by the farmer in the field.”

Despite the challenges of staying in farming, this is a good fall to be a corn grower.

“Anytime we can make a good crop, we enjoy that,” Balderson said. “Starting off from the beginning, you never really know when you plant a crop what you’re going to harvest because of the rainfall patterns and the potential for other weather effects, such as hurricanes.”



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