A dry August has hurt yields for the Eastern Shore’s corn and soybean crops.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, just 2.5 inches of rain in August was measured in August at their facility near Wallops.
“Corn yields are very low, and the soybean plants don’t have many pods on them,” said Ursula Deitch, Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent for Northampton County.
The Shore’s farmers, for the most part, had good yields on their corn crops in 2021.
Not only has the Shore experienced a dry August, the winter was also dry.
“We didn’t get a lot of rain over the winter, so retention ponds were already low and are now very low on water for irrigation,” Deitch added. “I spoke with one farmer who said he had never seen a winter so dry, there was no standing water in ditches at end of winter.”
Deitch said she is expecting a 30% reduction in yields for the crops in Accomack and Northampton County.
“It is unfortunate because agriculture is what drives us here on the Shore. when you have a drag on yields in affects everything that goes along with it, like poultry. Years like this, with high input costs and low yields, can cause serious financial problems for farmers.”
Complicating matters for grain markets, which experienced a big run up in prices during the COVID-19 pandemic, a USDA report from the crops in the mid-West said they are expecting a smaller than normal crop, once again due to dry conditions.
One thing that has gone right this year for the Eastern Shore’s agriculture community is potatoes.
“Potatoes got the rain they needed for the most part,” she said. ” They are always terminated in mid June and dug in July, which was before the rain turned off.”