(The Center Square) – Corn, soybeans and tobacco are having good years in most of North Carolina.
Autumn begins Saturday, and regional projections requested by The Center Square from the state Department of Agriculture coupled with two reports from the National Agriculture Statistics Service indicate most crops and regions of the state are average or above.
Regional field agronomists report good or above average projections for corn in the southern Coastal Plains, the northern Piedmont and the western Piedmont. Soybean reports are similar in the northern and western Piedmont.
Tobacco is having a down year in the northern Piedmont, but it’s good in the eastern Piedmont, and both the northern and southern Coastal Plains. In the southern Piedmont and Sandhills, the report is good and bad in association with rainfall amounts.
“It seems we are looking at average yields on most of the major field crops, but even that varies within counties and regions based on rainfall,” Andrea Ashby, the Agriculture Department’s leader of Public Affairs, wrote in an email to The Center Square. “Corn seems to be faring a bit better with a couple of regions reporting they anticipate above average yields.”
In the southern Coastal Plains, regional agronomist Georgia Love through Ashby said of corn, the “top dryland yield is around 280 bushels, so it is looking like above average yields. There are still areas that are dry that won’t come close to that.”
Daniel Overcash, in the western Piedmont, said the crop is above average, that “yields range from 150 to over 200 bushels/acre.”
Toward the coast, tobacco has about two to three weeks left and is about 75% harvested. More inland, it’s the second half of the season.
Digging for peanuts and sweet potatoes is coming next week and in about two weeks, respectively. Defoliation for cotton is also coming soon.
“The peanut crop looks to be average” in the northeastern part of the state and northern Coastal Plains, Tristan Morris reported through Ashby. “The hot and dry weather has taken a toll on the crop this year.”
Morris, the agronomist for the region, said cotton was also hurt by conditions. Recent rain should help sweet potatoes.
Cotton is not having its best year, the reports collectively indicate. Morris, Brad Thompson in the southern Piedmont and Sandhills, and Don Nicholson in the eastern Piedmont say hot and dry weather has been problematic. Nicholson said some of his farmers are average to good, with others “disastrous.” Thompson said the crop is on pace to be “one of the most disappointing in years.”
Overcash said his farmers had soft prices though a good season with summer vegetables, and the hay land pastures “have been great” because of consistent rain. Most are up to their third cut of the season.
Agriculture has always been the state’s No. 1 industry, with current estimates of a $103.2 billion contribution to the state’s economy. The state is ninth nationally as an agriculture producer, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The state Agriculture Department says North Carolina is No. 1 in the country for sweet potatoes, producing about 54% of all grown in the U.S., and tobacco.