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eNews from Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Despite Flooding, Big Kentucky Corn Harvests Possible

Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, KY) -- June 9, 2010 -- Area farmers feared the worst last month when storms dumped several inches of rain on the region in a matter of hours, sending creeks and rivers out of their banks into newly planted fields.

But 2010 could actually turn out to be a pretty good year for farmers, Clint Hardy, Daviess County's extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, said Tuesday.

A warm, dry April saw nearly 60 percent of Daviess County's corn crop planted by the middle of that month, Hardy said then.

But May flooding forced farmers to replant several fields. And some decided to switch to soybeans instead.

"The later corn is planted, the more likely it is to suffer from dry conditions in August," Hardy said. "But right now, we're seeing warm temperatures with good chances of rain. The corn is coming up and it looks good for this time of year. We have the potential for a very good crop."

Daviess County farmers have planted more acres of soybeans than corn for several years.

For awhile this spring, it looked like the total number of acres planted in corn could rival beans, Hardy said.

But now, it once again looks like more acres of soybeans will be planted in Daviess County, he said.

Corn, however, leads in bushels produced -- 10.95 bushels to 4.1 bushels of soybeans last year, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reports.

Even with a good corn crop though, farmers who had to replant will see reduced profits, Hardy said.

"When you have to replant, it costs a minimum of $50 an acre," he said.

Even if seed companies offset some of the costs of new seeds, farmers still have the expense of adding more nitrogen to their fields as well as the cost of fuel and labor in replanting the crop, he said.

In a county where burley tobacco was once king, 20 to 30 percent fewer acres are being planted this year because of a lower contracted pound allowance from the tobacco companies, Hardy said.

In 2004, Congress approved a federal tobacco quota buyout that ended the price support system that had guaranteed growers a minimum amount for their tobacco since the 1930s.

Now, growers contract directly with the tobacco companies. And with fewer people smoking and more competition from foreign tobacco, the companies are buying less burley in 2010.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in March that farmers across the Burley Belt were expected to plant 97,800 acres of tobacco this year -- 4 percent less than a year ago.

Hardy said the number of acres being planted in burley this year is "pretty similar to where we were at the end of quotas."

But acreage in Daviess County had been dropping for years before the quota system ended.

"We're probably off a couple hundred acres now from where we were in the 1970s and 1980s," Hardy said.

Author: Keith Lawrence

Copyright (c) 2010, Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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