Area seeing good year for crops

Published 10:03 am Wednesday, June 27, 2012


COURTLAND—So far, Western Tidewater has experienced a good year for its wheat, peanut, cotton and corn crops, said Chris Drake, the agriculture extension agent for Southampton County.

“The wheat’s completed,” Drake said. “That was a week or two ago. There’s very little that hasn’t been harvested. Yields are above average, but not a bumper crop. Everybody’s pretty pleased.”

The peanut crop looks good for the most part, with the exception of Sunbeam, Newsoms and Statesville, where excessive rainfall has hindered emergence and growth, Drake said.

The progress varies noticeably for cotton.

“Cotton crops are all over the place from a few inches tall to some that are 25-plus inches and growing beautifully,” he said. “We need heat to provide some good growing conditions, but don’t want to see temperatures in the 100s.”

He noted that prices for cotton are considerably down from 2011, when the crop sold in the mid 90-cent range. It’s now in the high 60-cent range.

“We hope for some price recovery by harvest,” said Drake, adding that wheat, soybean and corn prices are “still at a decent level.”

Corn is coming along nicely after some early nutrient deficiencies.

“They still have a very good potential with one or two more rains in the next two to three weeks,” Drake said.

Most soybeans have been planted from mid-May through early June, said Drake.

However, he’s heard that due to deer feeding on newly emerged beans, there has been some replanting done, and flooding of poorly drained soils in some areas has led to poor germination.

At Plank Road Farms in Sebrell, Richard Kitchen is optimistic about this year’s wheat, soybeans, rye and cotton.

“We’re around 700 acres of cotton this year,” said the fourth-generation farmer. “The weather has been very favorable so far this year. It’s looking pretty well. Right on schedule. We’re where we should be.”

The cotton looks exceptionally well,” Kitchen said.

“The wheat harvest did fine, and we’re looking for a rain on the Fourth of July,” he said. “All the soybeans are in on time.”

“We didn’t get the rain on Monday, Kitchen continued. “We just missed it. But what’s come in already has ‘kept the pastures growing, making for plenty to eat by the cattle.’”