WASHINGTON – Corn and soybean yields are expected to be the second-highest ever in Maryland this year, mirroring a possible record-setting year nationwide, agriculture officials reported Friday.
“Ideal growing conditions and adequate and timely moisture are probably the two primary reasons,” said Bob Kratochvil, state extension specialist for grain and oil crops. “Mother Nature was very kind to us this year.”
Maryland farmers are expected to average 152 bushels of corn per acre, just three bushels shy of the state’s 2000 record, according to the Maryland Agricultural Statistics Service. Nationwide, the yield is expected to average 160.2 bushels per acre.
The soybean yield in Maryland is expected to be 42 bushels per acre, just one bushel short of the 2000 record, and just shy of what would be a national record average of 42.6 bushels per acre.
Maryland farmers had harvested 91 percent of their corn and 56 percent of soybeans as of Nov. 7. Soybean harvests stalled because of wet weather and because farmers were so busy with corn, Kratochvil said.
After saying it had been “just a fantastic year,” Poolesville farmer Jamie Jamison said he hopes none of the crops go to waste.
“We need to feed a lot of animals, we need to make a lot of ethanol and export a bunch,” he said.
The abundant corn crop has overloaded storage facilities and forced Perdue Farms Inc. to store corn in 20- to 30-foot-tall piles in parking lots at its Eastern Shore facilities. The ventilated piles are more than 100 feet long and covered in black tarps that make them look like “circus tents,” a Perdue spokesman said.
With so much supply, Gene Mullinix said he is only accepting crops on an appointment basis at his grain storage facilities in Lisbon and Frederick.
“We’re plugged up now,” he said, adding that he has never seen anything like this in 40 years in the business. His bins are filled to capacity with 1.25 million bushels of corn and soy beans.
But as farmers have watched their yields go up, they have also watched prices fall.
Farmers who contracted their corn back in May got $3 a bushel for it. Recently, it has been selling at less than $2 a bushel, said Lynne Hoot, executive director of the Maryland Grain Producers Association.
“They could have made an extra $1 a bushel, which is pretty significant,” Hoot said. But she said farmers are still satisfied with the large yields.
“Farmers are much happier when they have something to sell,” Hoot said.
Julia Klapproth, an agricultural statistician at the Maryland Agricultural Statistics Service, said the near-record harvest follows a century-long pattern of increasing yields, as improvements in breeding, pesticide and irrigation management let farmers get more crops per acre.
Kratochvil said Maryland probably would have broken the 2000 record yields if not for a few pockets on the Eastern Shore that experienced brief droughts.
Corn and soybeans are the state’s largest crops. The Maryland Agricultural Statistics Service reports that farmers expect to harvest totals of 63.8 million bushels of corn and 20.6 million bushels of soybeans.
National forecasts are 11.7 billion bushels of corn and 3.15 billion bushels of soybeans.
-30- CNS 11-12-04