BY DAVID FISHER
WEAKLEY COUNTY (October 5) — Local farmers are busy harvesting abundant crops this year, as the end of an excellent growing season draws near.
County Corn Production
According to Weakley County Extension Director and Agriculture Agent Jeff Lannom, Weakley County’s three major crops are corn, winter wheat and soybeans.
“Corn yields have been average to above average in different parts of the county, due to differing rainfall amounts,” said Lannom. “I have heard several really good yield reports and I have measured several different corn yields.”
A couple of the fields Lannom tested were over 200 bushels per acre, as were acreage he measured in National Corn Grower yield contests.
“Weakley County planted 74,446 acres of corn, which is up from last year,” Lannom said. “We normally run 60,000 to 65,000 acres.”
Lannom reported the first opportunity for corn planting in 2021 was around April 6, which was followed by plantings in mid and late April, late May and early June. “The first two plantings yielded exceptionally well, and all-in-all, we’ve had a very good corn production year.”
County Wheat Production
Farmers across Tennessee and Weakley County produced a bumper crop of winter wheat in 2021, compared to last year’s totals, thanks in large part to good weather conditions during the fall of 2020. This allowed producers to begin planting early and to plant more acreage.
At the local level, Lannom, said, “In 2020, we planted 17,600 acres of wheat, and harvested a total of 907,000 bushels, which averaged 51.5 bushels per acre.”
He noted in 2021, Weakley County farmers planted 24,552 acres of winter wheat, which is 6,952 more acreage than the previous year.
“We had a really good wheat harvest this year,” Lannom said. “I don’t have a county average yield yet. It may be early December before I have those numbers.” However, he stated wheat production in Weakley County during 2021 is significantly higher than it was last year.
According to Lannom, farmers typically plant their wheat crops during the months of October and November and begin harvesting them in June. Once the wheat crops are harvested, farmers begin planting soybeans on the same acreage.
“If we have good weather this fall, I project farmers will plant even more acreage,” Lannom said.
When asked how inflation is impacting the farming industry, Lannom stated that it’s costing farmers more to produce agricultural products this year. “Input prices are already up,” he said. “This year’s wheat crop will cost more to put in than last year’s crop.” He remarked the cost of seed, fertilizer, chemical treatments, diesel fuel and other products necessary to plant and harvest crops, continues to increase.
Lannom said, unlike manufacturing businesses, which can pass the cost of their products onto their customers, “farmers don’t set prices; they accept prices.” He added, these inflation-driven price increases “eat into their profits. Although wheat prices are currently up, who knows what the prices will be when they harvest their crops.”
State and National Wheat Production
According to statistics released by the Tennessee Field Office of USDA’S National Agricultural Statistics Service, Tennessee winter wheat production is up markedly from 2020.
Tennessee farmers harvested 23.4 million bushels of winter wheat during the summer of 2021, which is up 73 percent from the previous year.
Yield is estimated at 71.0 bushels per acre, which is up 12.0 bushels from 2020. Farmers seeded 400,000 acres last fall, up 100,000 acres from the previous year. Area harvested for grain totaled 330,000 acres. During the same period, acres for other uses totaled 70,000 acres and were used as cover crop, cut as hay, chopped for silage or abandoned.
However, production of all wheat for the U.S. totaled 1.65 billion bushels, down 10 percent from 2020. Grain area harvested totaled 37.2 million acres, up 1 percent from the previous year. The United States yield is estimated at 44.3 bushels per acre, down 5.4 bushels from last year. The levels of production and changes from 2020 by type are: winter wheat, 1.28 billion bushels, up 9 percent; other spring wheat, 331 million bushels, down 44 percent; and durum wheat, 37.3 million bushels, which is down 46 percent.
Nationally, the current cost for a loaf of bread averages $2.50, compared to $1.40 in 2020.
However, the price of a loaf of bread locally is somewhat lower, at approximately $1.19 for white bread and $2.19 for wheat.
Statewide Crop Report
In West Tennessee, corn, wheat, cotton, and soybean harvests were active, with scattered showers slowing harvest in some areas. Cotton defoliation was active, with some producers making the decision to wait until drier weather prevailed.
Good yields were reported for all crops and livestock were reported in good condition.
Double cropped soybeans were beginning to yellow. In Middle Tennessee, harvest was active for most of the week.
East Tennessee producers cut hay and over-seeded and seeded pastures and hayfields. Producers took advantage of weather last week to harvest hay. There were 4.9 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture was 7 percent short, 76 percent adequate, and 17 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture was 2 percent very short, 9 percent short, 80 percent adequate, and 9 percent surplus. Hay and roughage supplies were 2 percent very short, 9 percent short, 71 percent adequate, and 18 percent surplus.
According to the Crop Production report issued recently by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the average U.S. corn yield is forecast at 176.3 bushels per acre, up 1.7 bushels from last month’s forecast and up 4.3 bushels from last year.
Acres planted to corn, at 93.3 million, are up 3 percent from 2020. Area to be harvested for grain is forecast at 85.1 million acres, up 1 percent from last month and 3 percent more than was harvested last year. Approximately 60 percent of this year’s corn crop was reported in good or excellent condition, 2 percentage points below the same time last year.
Corn production is up 6 percent from last year, forecast at 15.0 billion bushels.
Also, soybean, and cotton production is up from 2020 at the national level. soybean growers are expected to increase their production 6 percent from 2020, forecast at 4.37 billion bushels; cotton production is up 27 percent from 2020 at 18.5 million 480-pound bales.
The Weakley County Extension Office is a unique partnership between Weakley County Government, the University of Tennessee and the United States Department of Agriculture. Visit the Tennessee State 4-H Website to learn more at: http://www.utextension.utk.edu/4H/