10/15/04 — Farmers see high crop yields and low prices

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Farmers see high crop yields and low prices

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on October 15, 2004 2:00 PM

Wayne County farmers are having high yields in their row crops, but the commodity prices are down, an extension agent says.

Bob Pleasants, county extension agent, said the cotton is coming in extremely well and many farmers are picking 1,000 pounds per acre. A normal year would yield around 700 pounds per acre.

He said he thought it was going to be a better-than-average crop, and the quality also appeared to be good, especially in the northern part of the county.

"We are pretty excited about that," said Pleasants.

There are still some farmers just getting started harvesting their cotton crop. They focused on picking last week and the beginning of this week because of the good weather.

Farmers are mostly finished harvesting corn. A few acres were wet and could not be harvested.

It was a very good crop on average, and Pleasants estimated that the countywide average would be 120 to 130 bushels per acre, a high average. He has heard of a farmer averaging 155 bushels per acre, which is rare. Some have said they did the best on corn they had ever done, he added.

The tobacco harvest is over, and it looks as if farmers will make their quotas across the county. There are a few producers that lost a lot of tobacco due to heavy rains, said Rick Tharrington with the Wayne County Farm Service Agency. Some had significant losses and will not make their quotas, but those are isolated cases.

Pleasants said farmers have started harvesting their sweet potatoes. Bruce Howell has sweet potatoes in the northern and southern part of the county and said it will be a fair to average crop.

He said the crop varies depending on where it is in the county. Some spots have good yields, while others that had a lot rain have a poor crop. But that is normal, because farmers never have an excellent crop from one side of the county to the other, added Howell.

Farmers are getting ready to start harvesting soybeans, and Pleasants said they are looking good.

Corn, cotton, soybeans and peanuts are progressing ahead of the five-year average due to the favorable weather conditions this summer, according to the North Carolina Agricultural Department.

Flue-cured tobacco production is expected to total 342 million pounds, 17 percent above last year.

Burley tobacco is forecast at 7.7 million pounds, 8 percent above last year.

Cotton production is forecast at 1.18 million bales, 14 percent more than last year.

Corn is forecast to be the largest since 1992, with corn for grain production expected to total 87.4 million bushels, up 21 percent from last year. Growers plan to harvest 760,000 acres, the largest since 1998.

Soybean production is expected to total 47 million bushels, up 12 percent from last year and the largest crop since 1982.

Commodity prices have dropped since this time last year. According to the N.C. Department of Agriculture, average prices for commodities sold in September 2004 compared to September 2003 are as follows:

*Soybeans -- $5.52 per bushel compared to $6.10 per bushel.

*Corn -- $2.28 per bushel compared to $2.48 per bushel.

*Wheat -- $2.96 per bushel compared to $3.21 per bushel.

*Sweet potatoes -- $15.50 per 40-pound carton compared to $19.29 per 40-pound carton.

*Tobacco -- For the season through Thursday, these are the figures the Stabilization Cooperative has for tobacco sold at local markets to tobacco companies: Kinston -- 5,831,318 pounds at an average price of $182.46 per 100 pounds; Smithfield -- 4,335,396 pounds at an average price of $181.69 per 100 pounds; Clinton -- 4,375,877 pounds at an average price of $183.92 per 100 pounds; Wilson -- 10,475,980 pounds at an average price of $182.82 per 100 pounds.

*Cotton -- $46.52 per pound as of Oct. 14 compared to $71.62 per pound on Oct. 14, 2003, based on the New York Futures price, which is the basis for U.S. cotton prices. The drop is attributed to an oversupply of U.S. cotton. Farmers are making big yields this year across the United States and the world.