Corn, Soybean and Cotton Yields Down in VA

By: Keith Jones Email
By: Keith Jones Email

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Virginia corn, soybean, and cotton crop production numbers went down in 2007. Some say it's linked to last year's drought, while others aren't so sure.

In the Valley, the outlook for 2008 is also unclear. Farmers say they're hopeful, but nothing is a guarantee.

"Well, the big thing nowadays is this ethanol," says Lynn Koontz, a farmer in Dayton. "I mean, that has effected everything."

Koontz says despite efforts by farmers to plant more corn in 2007, the numbers were down, based on the market and ethanol production.

Koontz says, "Right now, you get about 2 1/2 gallons of ethanol from a bushel of corn. Of course, like everything else, they're refining it and getting better at it. Hopefully some of your better plants are pushing three gallons per bushel."

Last year's grain yields in Virginia averaged 85 bushels an acre, which is down from 120 the year before. Koontz says corn is expensive and production is definitely dependent on the weather.

"The dry weather last year down south [affected] a lot of people," says Koontz. "I was looking at the Farmer's Almanac that that dry weather might just creep on up the Valley and we might be in for a dry spell here next year, worse than what we had last year."

About 405,000 acres of grain were harvested in Virginia, which is an increase of 60,000 acres from 2006.

"You'll have your minor increases from year to year due to technology and this and that and the other, but as far as seeing any real big boom, you put all your acres and put them in corn, and then you're going to be short of hay, or wheat, or barley, or anything else," says Koontz.

Overall, production fell almost 20 percent, peaking at nearly 35 million bushels, but Koontz doesn't expect it to change.

He says, "Here in Virginia, it'll probably pretty much stay the same."

Farmers across the nation cultivated the highest number of acres of corn since 1933. Virginia's soybean production is estimated at 13 million bushels, 18 percent less than production the year before. The Commonwealth's cotton production is estimated at 105,000 bales, which is also down 32 percent from 2006.


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