The weather’s getting the blame for North Carolina’s poor crop condition and expected yields this year.
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler says, “It’s quickly turning into a bad year for the state’s crops,” because of Easter’s freeze, and summer’s heat and drought.
While corn acres were pegged at 1.1 million acres this year – fueled by ethanol and overall grain demand – the weather conditions have reduced the potential per acre yield to a 94 bushel average, down 38 bushels from last year’s figure. Despite significant increases in corn acreage, actual production is expected to be down a full percentage point.
Hay production is expected to be down 15% from last year with a total yield of 1.4 million tons, or a statewide average of two tons per acre – the lowest since 2002.
Apples and peaches were particularly hard hit in the spring freeze. Apple production is pegged at 50 million pounds, compared with 173 million pounds a year ago. Peach production, 1,000 tons, is down 82% from last year. And, grape production is forecast at 3,500 tons, a 24% drop from 2006. Overall, USDA records indicate North Carolina apple and peach yields are the smallest since 1955.
Additional information on this year’s crop estimates can be found at www.nass.usda.gov.