What is in this article?:
• Over the past five years corn yields in Virginia have averaged 102 bushels per acre. In North Carolina the five-year average stands at 106 bushels per acre.
• Clearly these numbers fall significantly short of the national corn yield trend.
• Soybean growers in the Southeast can grow yields comparable to growers in the Midwest, if there is adequate rainfall throughout the growing season.
VIRGINIA TECH Small Grains Specialist Wade Thomason, right, and Wheat Breeder Carl Griffey discuss crop yields at a recent field day.
In recent years many Southeast growers have accepted as fact that corn yields are going up and they can never compete with the Midwest for yields of wheat and soybeans.
Soybean and wheat growers in the Southeast can bask in the glow of the reality that their yields are on the steady incline.
However, corn is a different story, and across most Southeastern states 10-year corn yields are trending down.
Over the past five years corn yields in Virginia have averaged 102 bushels per acre. In North Carolina the five-year average stands at 106 bushels per acre.
Clearly these numbers fall significantly short of the national corn yield trend.
Similar up and down production trends can be found in other Southeast states.
The National Corn Growers Coalition, established in 2008 by the National Corn Growers Association, makes a poignant case for the productivity of corn: “Farmers today grow five times as much corn as they did in the 1930s — on 20 percent less land. That is 13 million acres or 20,000 square miles, twice the size of Massachusetts. The yield per acre has skyrocketed from 24 bushels in 1931 to 154 now, or a six-fold gain.
The decline in corn production in Virginia is mostly weather related.
“I work every year with corn varieties, and I know yield based on varieties is going up. I think there have been similar advances in production technology, so about the only variable left is weather,” says Virginia Tech Small Grains Specialist Wade Thomason.
Jerry Stoller, president of Stoller Enterprises, says there is a much more economical approach than irrigation to solving the up and down, weather-related corn yields many growers in the Southeast have seen the past few years.