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Hope for harvest

Early fall rains offer potential boost for some 2020 yields
Reports compiled by Julia Austin, GreenPoint AG Agronomy Technology Specialist 9/29/2020


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) Crop Production estimates that the states corn yield is to average 178 bushels per acre, 1 bushel above last year.
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As the Cooperator went to print on Sept. 14, GreenPoint AG agronomists were optimistic the 2020 harvest had the potential to be a bright spot in an otherwise challenging year. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) Crop Production forecast published on Sept. 11, was similarly optimistic. 

Tennessee’s corn yield is estimated to average 178 bushels per acre, 1 bushel above last year. Corn production is expected to be 156.6 million bushels, down 2.8 percent from last year. The report predicts U.S. corn production for grain at 14.9 billion bushels, the second highest total on record for the United States. Yields are expected to average a record high 178.5 bushels per harvested acre, up 11.1 bushels from last year’s final estimate of 167.4 bushels.

The state’s soybean production is predicted at 78.5 million bushels — a record high, if realized — and an almost 22 percent increase over last year’s production of 64.4 million bushels. The state’s average yield is projected at 50 bushels per acre. At 4.31 billion bushels, the 2020 U.S. soybean production is forecast to be the third highest on record. The projected yield tied for a record high 51.9 bushels per acre, which is up 4.5 bushels from last year.

Tennessee’s cotton production is expected to be 650,000 bales, a decrease of 32 percent from last year. The state’s cotton yields were almost the same as last year with 1,135 pounds per acre in 2020.  U.S. cotton production was forecast at 17.06 million bales, a decrease of 14.3 from 2019. Yields nationwide are expected to be 910 pounds per acre, up 10.6 percent over 2019 levels. 

Burley tobacco production in Tennessee is forecast at 4.35 million pounds, a decline 2.05 million pounds. Yield is expected to fall 1,450 pounds per acre. Dark air-cured tobacco production is forecast at 9.25 million pounds an increase of 6.45 million pounds over 2019.  Yield is projected to increase to 2,500 pounds per acre, an increase of 16 percent over the previous year. Fire-cured tobacco production is expected to reach 16.8 million pounds compared to 2019 production of 17.6 million pounds.

GreenPoint AG agronomists from across Tennessee shared their perspectives on expected results in their areas. 

Trevor Smith — West Tennessee

"With harvest well underway, initial yield reports from the field all seem to be favorable," says Trevor. "Due in large part to the timely late season rains many fields received in July and August, we also anticipate exceptional soybean yields where good fertility is in place.  Cotton has a good fruit load, and provided we see adequate heat units in the remainder of the growing season along with favorable weather during defoliation, the crop should finish nicely." 

Cole Delong — Upper Cumberland 

“Corn, for the most part, looks good, but some late-planted corn may not yield as high as expected because of heat stress and Southern rust,” says Cole. “Double-crop beans are looking good if we get extra rain and disease pressure can be kept to a minimum.” 

Brett Jones — Middle Tennessee

“It seems like every location is different this year,” reports Brett. “In some areas, farmers planted corn early and have gotten timely rains throughout the season and will have great yields. Other areas were too wet to plant corn early, and many of those spots have not gotten as much rain, so crops are not looking as promising. Soybeans are mostly looking very good if diseases are kept at bay.”

He adds that forages have been anything but normal this season with cooler temperatures than normal allowing cool seasons grasses to grow better than usual during the summer months.

“However, our warm season forages like bermudagrass and crabgrass have not grown well at all,” he says. “In some cases, we’re months behind schedule on these forages.” 

Tom Bible — East Tennessee

“Early corn and soybeans in East Tennessee have struggled and will disappoint yield wise,” says Tom. “The dry period and heat in July in our part of the state really hurt those crops. On a brighter note, later-planted corn and soybeans are going to be bin busters. The rains and cooler weather of August have really made a difference.”

Ben Gilbert — Specialty Crops 

“Specialty crops have struggled due to the cool late spring we had,” says Ben. “The wet summer has been rough on

yields and fruit quality. Changes in

market because of COVID-19 closings

have been hard on commercial vegetable production, but local markets have seen rises in purchases due to customers

wanting local produce.”

Watch for expanded harvest coverage in the December 2020 issue of The Cooperator.

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