(The Center Square) — Despite drought conditions, Virginia crops are likely to produce average yields this harvest season.
Broilers (chickens raised for meat production), cattle and turkeys are the commonwealth’s top farm commodities, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2021. Still, “miscellaneous” crops, including vegetables, barley, mushrooms, sunflowers and other field crops, are the state’s next highest-grossing commodity.
These crops generated nearly $322 million for the commonwealth in 2021. If they’re faring like Virginia’s other crops this season, they should be on track for slightly smaller harvests than last year but on par with the five-year average, despite what VDACS Director of Communications Michael Wallace described as “abnormally dry to severe drought conditions in about 25% of the state.”
Barley is up slightly from last year and the average, with 26% of Virginia’s barley planted as of Oct. 1, compared to 21% and 23%, respectively.
Soybeans, corn, tobacco, cotton, wheat and peanuts are among the commonwealth’s top 20 farm commodities.
As of Sept. 1, soybeans and corn are projected to produce slightly less this year and are coming in slightly under the five-year average.
Tobacco crops are looking good, according to Wallace, and are expected to yield just over 30 million pounds this year, up marginally from last year’s 29.9 million.
Six percent of Virginia’s cotton has been harvested as of Oct. 1 – the same as the five-year average for this time of year – and while none of last week’s cotton was in excellent condition according to USDA standards, 91% was in good condition.
The commonwealth’s winter wheat also seems to be having a good year.
“Virginia farmers harvested 10.5 million bushels of winter wheat during the summer of 2023 according to the Virginia Field Office of USDA’S National Agricultural Statistics Service,” Wallace told The Center Square.
“This was up 3% from the previous year. Yield is estimated at 78.0 bushels per acre, up 10.0 bushels from 2022. Farmers seeded 200,000 acres last fall, and the area harvested for grain totaled 135,000 acres, with acres for other uses totaled 65,000 acres,” Wallace said.
Virginia’s peanut crops are expected to have a slightly higher yield than last year, with an ultimate harvest of over 136 million pounds, up 10 million pounds from last year.