Banner year for corn and soybean crops

By Christi Milligan

It was a record year for corn and soybean production in Delaware, thanks to exceptional growing conditions and a new hybrid of corn, according to Delaware Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Kee. While final production numbers won’t be released until Jan. 12, the latest stats for 2014 are impressive, and Kee said that 2015 predictions suggest a good year.

November figures released by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service show that Delaware corn production is forecast at 32.3 million bushels, up nine percent from October and 12 percent from 2013. Based on conditions as of Nov. 1, yields are expected to average 190 bushels per acre, up 15 bushels per acre from the October forecast and 24 bushels above the 2013 average. If realized, it will be the highest yield and production on record for Delaware.

Area harvested for grain is forecast at 170,000 acres, unchanged from the October forecast, but down two percent from 2013.

Delaware soybean production is forecast at 8.78 million bushels, up four percent from October and 33 percent from last year. Based on Nov. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average a record-high 48 bushels per acre, up two bushels from last month and 7.5 bushels from last year. Area for harvest is forecast at 183,000 acres, unchanged from October, but up 12 percent from last year.

“This past year, we had, for the most part throughout the state, tremendous growing conditions,” said Kee. “It rained almost perfectly; it didn’t get real hot.  Our crops thrived, especially corn.”Christi-corn-soybean

Kee said rainfall and general weather conditions were bolstered by new genetics for a corn hybrid developed in the past five years. “They have really hit the farming scene, and they have increased yield potential,” said Kee. “They’re resistant to disease and drought, as well.”

As for 2015, Kee said he’s not prepared to make solid predictions. “But I think we could say it’s reasonable to expect prices to hold about the same, with maybe moderate increases and decreases as it fluctuates,” he said.

Delaware produces 60-70 percent of the corn needed to feed the poultry industry. The state ranks seventh or eighth in production each year, but Sussex County has been first in broiler production since 1940.

Kee said 30-40 percent of corn is imported from the Midwest to meet the demand from the local poultry industry.

Delaware’s total agriculture sales are about $1.2 billion.

Delaware Ag Week is scheduled for Jan. 12-16. The state’s 44th Annual Agricultural Industry Dinner is slated for Jan. 21.

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