Cotton, peanut yields up

Published 11:22 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Rain came when needed this year

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Virginia cotton farmers generated a bumper crop of cotton bales this year, up 90 percent from 2016, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Producers expect to harvest 83,000 acres, up 11,000 acres from 2016.

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The reason was the weather, said Elaine Lidholm, spokeswoman with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The difference was that dramatic because 2016 was a “horrible” year weather-wise for cotton and this year was almost perfect, Lidholm said. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Abundant rain in the spring and early summer, coupled with no major weather disturbances, such as a hurricane, and then a good stretch of dry weather, which was a boon for cotton, peanuts and wine grapes, Lidholm said, adding that it was the opposite for pasture grass and hay.

“Too much rain can batter the bolls or cause deterioration or discoloring, and it can keep the farmers out of the field when they need to harvest. So while not every farmer was happy about the dry spell, the cotton farmers were thrilled,” Lidholm said.

Rainfall was more than two inches below normal for September, but picked up again in October, with about an inch more than normal.

Farmer Dee Dee Darden hasn’t harvested cotton yet, but heard most people are getting more than two bales.

“Anytime you get that, it’s a good crop,” she said.

A dry September was also fortunate timing for cotton.

 “Virginia farmers were able to harvest their crops ahead of the normal pace during the month of September,” said Herman Ellison, Virginia state statistician, NASS.

“The weather conditions were hot and dry with the exception of some moisture from Hurricane Irma in the southeast area.”

 Virginia cotton production is projected to be 190,000 bales, up 90 percent from last year. Cotton yields are forecast to average 1,099 pounds per acre, up 432 pounds per acre from the previous year.

U.S. cotton production was forecast at 21.1 million bales, up 23 percent from 2016. Yields are forecast to average 889 pounds per acre, up 22 pounds from last year. Harvested acreage is estimated at 11.4 million acres, up 20 percent from the previous year.

 Peanut farmers in Virginia anticipate harvesting 116 million pounds for 2017, up 51 percent from last year. Acres expected to be harvested total 27,000 acres, up 6,000 from last year. Producers expect a yield of 4,300 pounds per acre, up 650 pounds from 2016.

 Corn production in Virginia was forecast at 51.7 million bushels, up three percent from the previous crop. Yield was estimated at 152 bushels per acre, up four bushels from the 2016 level. Acres for harvest as grain were estimated at 340,000 acres, unchanged from 2016.

 Soybean production for Virginia is forecast at 24.8 million bushels, an increase of 15 percent from 2016. Yield was estimated at 42 bushels per acre, up six bushels from a year ago.

 Virginia flue-cured tobacco production was forecast at 49.5 million pounds, up two percent from 2016. Yield was projected at 2,250 pounds per acre, up 50 pounds from the 2016 crop. Harvested acreage was estimated at 22,000 acres, unchanged from last year’s crop.

 Production of Virginia dark fire-cured tobacco was forecast at 532,000 pounds, up two percent from the previous year. Burley tobacco production was forecast at 2.37 million pounds, down six percent from last year.

 Alfalfa hay production is forecast at 171,000 tons, 15 percent below the 2016 level. Other hay production was estimated at 2.85 million tons, up eight percent from last year.

 “Thank you to all the farmers for taking time to complete the October Agricultural Yield Survey,” Ellison said. “We appreciate their efforts during the busy growing season.”

 NASS gathered data for the October Agricultural Yield Survey earlier this month. The monthly yield surveys begin in May with the focus on small grains through July and shifts to row crops beginning in August through the remainder of the growing season.

Reports are available on the NASS website:   {/mprestriction}