2007 yield projections down due to drought
The effects of August’s extreme heat on North Carolina crops are painfully clear in the September U.S. Department of Agriculture crop production report.
“You look at this report and it’s like someone put North Carolina in a frying pan,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in responding to the figures. “We have been seared.”
Soybean yields are projected at 22 bushels per acre, a drop of five bushels from August. Yields are down 10 bushels per acre from 2006, and production is down 31 percent. “We’re looking at the lowest yield on soybeans since 1983,” Troxler said.
The yield for Irish potatoes is down 20 hundredweight per acre from last year, and overall production is down 15 percent.
Peanut yields are down 900 pounds per acre from last year. Production is projected to drop 21 percent, despite the fact that N.C. farmers planted 8,000 more acres of peanuts this year.
The corn yield is now at 89 bushels per acre, down 43 bushels from last year. “Some eastern counties have had just enough rain to make a good corn crop,” Troxler said. “If it weren’t for them, we’d probably be looking at an average yield of 50 to 60 bushels.”
Projected tobacco production has fallen from 360 million pounds in August to 336 million pounds now. Still, that’s about a 2 percent increase over last year. The yield, however, is projected at 1,991 pounds per acre, down 90 pounds per acre from last year.
Cotton yields are running 100 pounds per acre less than last year. “Cotton is pretty resilient, but the longer we go without rain, the worse it will get,” Troxler said.
The September report does not contain state information for hay, apples, peaches and grapes, all of which showed production losses in the August report. Updates for hay and apples will be out in October. Yields for peaches and grapes will be updated in the USDA’s final 2007 crop summary, which will be released early next year.