Corn, soybean producers cautiously optimistic about harvest

RICHMOND—Despite a dry August and drenching rains from a hurricane, Virginia corn growers are expecting a good crop this year, part of a possible record corn crop nationwide.

“Our corn crop primarily is doing very well,” said John N. Mills Jr. of the John N. Mills & Sons Farm, a King William County Farm Bureau board member. “There have been some very erratic places in fields, with some dry spots that didn’t do quite as well. But overall I’m pleased with the yield this year.”

The National Agricultural Statistics Service monthly crop prospects report released Oct. 12 predicts the Virginia corn harvest will total 53.7 million bushels, an 11 percent increase over the 2015 harvest. Nationwide corn production is forecast to hit 15.1 billion bushels, also an 11 percent increase and the largest corn crop on record.

The national soybean harvest is predicted to reach 4.27 billion bushels, a 9 percent increase from 2015. Virginia’s soybean harvest also is expected to be 9 percent larger, at 23.4 million bushels. The USDA report noted that rainfall during September helped boost yields for soybeans planted later in the season. But growers aren’t taking anything for granted.

“The beans look good right now in the field,” said R.N. Mills, also from King William County. “But they’re not ours until we get them in the grain bin. Right now probably nothing good can happen to them in the field. Like if that hurricane had come through, it could have blown them all down flat, or they could have been standing in water and had a lot of spoilage.”

Some of Virginia’s other major field crops also are faring well this year, but not cotton. The U.S. cotton crop is expected to be 24 percent higher this year, at 16 million bales. But Virginia cotton growers are anticipating a harvest of 140,000 bales—2 percent less than in 2015. Virginia peanut growers expect a 4 percent increase in their crop this year, up to 72 million pounds. Nationwide peanut production is expected to hit 6.3 million pounds, up from 6 million pounds last year.

This year’s flue-cured tobacco harvest in Virginia is forecast to hit 52.8 million pounds, up 7 percent from 2015. The U.S. flue-cured tobacco crop is expected to be down 5 percent from last year, at 460 million pounds.

Media: Contact Norm Hyde, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1146 or Herman Ellison, NASS Virginia field office, at 804-771-2493.

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