County to lose millions due to ‘disaster crops’
Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 10:38 pm
By JOHN BRANNON
The 2010 corn crop in Obion County is being declared a “disaster crop” that represents a loss of about $15 million. And the upcoming soybean harvest will have comparable losses.
This, according to two local agriculture officials — Tim Smith, Obion County officer director for the University of Tennessee Extension Service, and W.T. Hime, executive director of Farm Service Agency.
The losses are attributed to high heat and humidity and little or no rainfall in the month of August.
Smith said the corn crop — shelling has already begun — is going to be about 30 percent “under volume” from last year’s crop. “That equates to about $12 million in today’s market prices. It’s pretty devastating,” he said. “Last year, average yield was 162 an acre. This year, 100 to 115.”
Smith said the worst yield he’s seen so far this year is 31 bushels per acre. “You’ve got to have at least 100 to break even.”
Hime said that, from reports he’s received, the corn crop has been cut by at least a third. He echoes Smith’s report about low yields this year. “This year, it’s as low as 30 (bushels) per acre. Best I’ve heard is 100,” he said. “They tell me they would be pleased to average 100 to 125 per acre.”
Hime said that in 2009, Obion County farmers planted about 60,000 acres of corn; this year, 66,000 acres.
Some soybeans, he said, may make it through if the area could get a good rain. Some varieties of the bean that mature early are hard hit; others that mature late may do “fair.”
“I think we’re going to be down significantly on that crop, too,” Hime said. “We’ll probably lose a third of the yield, and we could lose as much half if we don’t get any rain.”
Worst case scenario, he foresees as much as a $15 million loss on soybeans. Losses in corn and soybeans combined may reach $30 million.
The 2010 corn and soybean crop is a disaster crop, he said. “Nobody knows how long it will take to recover. Maybe two or three years. Farmers are going to be in the hole, and it’ll take two or three years to get back even.”
Danny Gant, a meteorologist at the Memphis office of the National Weather Service, said rainfall for northwest Tennessee during August was 1.29 inches, far below the normal 3 inches each August.
“The first week of August, there were two spells of high temps. On Aug. 3, the temp reached 102 degrees, and on Aug. 4, 100 degrees,” he said. “The whole month of August, the average high was 93.6 degrees, and the average low was 72.”
Published in The Messenger 9.3.10