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“We knew we would get maybe 10 bushels of corn per acre, but we went ahead and got what we could, thinking we could settle up with the crop insurance folks later. Otherwise, in our area, the drought is so widespread, it would be well into next year before we get paid — there will just be too many claims to handle.”
Start over next year
Far from being down and out about drought losses, Kirby, who is past president of the Virginia Grain Growers Association, says, “We will just do the best we can and start over next year.” Again, Kirby shares the sentiments of most Southeast growers devastated by the heat and drought.
At harvest time soybean growers in the Southeast will likely encounter another heat-related problem. At 95 degrees F, soybean plants shed blooms. Virtually all soybean acres in the upper Southeast have been subjected to multiple days above 95 degrees and most have had multiple days above 100 degrees.
The result on soybeans will be to essentially produce two crops as the soybean plant replaces the lost blooms with new ones. The uneven crop will provide a big challenge to growers as to when to combine their beans.
Ron Heiniger, North Carolina State corn specialist and unofficial meteorologist for many farmers in eastern North Carolina’s Blacklands, says the damage to corn in the Tar Heel state is severe, but not unexpected.
El Niño typically comes in wet and cold and leaves hot and dry. Historically the back end of these El Niño weather patterns convert to a La Niña pattern and are devastating for Southeastern corn production and crop production in general, he explains.
The heat has been fairly uniform across the upper Southeast, but not the drought. Some areas have had adequate, even too much rain in some cases.
South Carolina peanut specialist Jay Chapin says the peanut production belt in South Carolina has been blessed with ample rainfall so far. The intense day and nighttime heat may create some problems for growers, but compared to corn in South Carolina, peanuts have been little affected by the adverse weather, the Clemson specialist says.