Farmers lose more crops

Published 9:24 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fields drying: Now that fields have mostly dried up following the torrential rainfall that started the month, many Suffolk farmers, including this one on Crittenden Road, have begun to harvest their cotton.

Suffolk farmers are in for more bad news as they continue harvesting.

Losses of cotton, soybean and peanut crops are all expected to be at half or far below half, according to Glenn Slade, Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent in Surry.

Slade added that losses may be slightly lower in Suffolk, but not by much.

Email newsletter signup

“This has been one of the hardest summers we’ve had in years,” Slade said. “I’ve been farming for 35 years and have never seen so many days over 90 degrees.”

Last month, Slade said yield losses for cotton were expected to come in around half. Now that harvest has begun, Slade confirmed that number. About 200 to 300 pounds of cotton are being harvested per acre, compared to the usual 500 pounds per acre.

Soybeans are just beginning to be harvested, but Slade said yields are between 12 and 15 bushels per acre. Usually, 30 to 50 bushels per acre are harvested.

While cotton and soybean harvesting are not going well, peanuts are worse.

The standard 3,000 pounds of peanuts an acre has dropped to 400-600 pounds an acre.

“In some places there aren’t hardly any peanuts,” Slade said. “It’s way less than half and the worst I’ve seen in quite a few years.”

These yield losses are coming after a heap of bad news for corn and pasture crops.

In August, a drought declaration suggested by local agencies to the City Manager showed an expected 90 percent yield loss in corn and 80 percent yield loss in pasture.

A 30-percent yield loss of a single crop must be shown to receive a drought declaration, which would allow for farmers to apply for low-interest loans.

The declaration was then submitted to the Governor’s office, which sent a request to the federal Secretary of Agriculture that Suffolk, and 36 other Virginia localities, be declared drought disaster areas.

According to Stacy Johnson, press secretary with the Governor’s office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Farm Service Agency are still conducting their review of Suffolk’s request.