Bountiful field crop harvests expected on the back of beneficial weather
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Bountiful field crop harvests expected on the back of beneficial weather

RICHMOND—Entering the 2022 growing season, the already tough task for Virginia farmers to produce quality crops was made even more difficult by inflation and supply chain disruptions.

Despite the difficulties, the state’s farmers persevered and are on track to reap excellent yields on several major field crops thanks to an assist from Mother Nature.

“Coming into this year there was a lot of concern among farmers about their ability to get their hands on everything they needed, and then what it would cost,” said Robert Harper, grain division manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Yield is everything, and farmers went into their fields heading into 2022 knowing it was going to cost them more than it ever has to plant corn or soybeans.”

Thankfully, Harper added, there are a good number of farmers expecting above-average yields and some “who are expecting the best crop they’ve ever grown. Having that extra yield is going to go a long way for their bottom line.”

The success of Virginia’s field crop growers comes despite many localities seeing below-average rainfall throughout the growing season, as indicated by the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s crop report for Aug. 29.

While statewide rainfall shortages have persisted throughout the summer, Harper noted timely rain showers have benefited many farmers growing crops west of Interstate 95.

The crop report revealed 96% and 93% of Virginia’s corn and soybean crops were in fair or better condition, respectively, and 76% of corn and 69% soybeans are in good to excellent condition.

A mid-August NASS press release also showed farmers expected increased corn and soybean yields from last year. According to the release, Virginia corn is estimated to come in at 160 bushels per acre and soybeans at 47 bushels.

Harper noted that if each estimate is realized, the corn yield will be the second-best in state history, while the soybean yield will be a state record.

In addition to corn and soybeans, Virginia peanuts and cotton also are thriving this year. One hundred percent of peanuts and 99% of cotton are in fair or better condition, respectively, and 90% of peanuts are in good and excellent condition, with cotton at 84%.

Shelley Barlow, who grows cotton, peanuts and soybeans in Suffolk, said her crops mostly were in good condition, but they’re experiencing what she considers a third spell of heat stress. NASS, which tracks rainfall in nearby Norfolk, shows the area has seen a deficit of 7.2 inches of rain against an average year from June 1.

Barlow said cotton and peanut farmers in the area are hoping for occasional rain for the rest of their season. Soaking rains—or a prolonged wet period—could wash out harvests that also are projected to outperform last year’s production totals.

Caroline County grain farmer Lynwood Broaddus said his early-season corn and soybeans performed well, but mirrored Barlow’s view that more rain is needed for crops still in the field.

“We’re very optimistic,” Broaddus said. “It’s Virginia—it’s almost expected to be hot and dry, and sometimes you’re lucky and get showers.”

Media: Contact Harper at 804-290-1105, Barlow at 757-544-1846 or Broaddus at 804-512-4068.

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