Farmers Laugh To The Bank With A Very Corny Harvest

Timely Rains Helped Crops After Drought Years

January 02, 1991|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Staff writer

Carroll County farmers are exulting over the excellent 1990 corn crop that has area silos filled to the brim.

Mother Nature cooperatedweather-wise to give an above-average yield for the second straight year after numerous droughts during the 1980s.

"It's good to have a year where we have a lot to work with," said Silver Run farmer Lawrence Meeks. "We had the worst drought I've ever seen in '88, so it's enjoyable to have a crop to work with."

Meeks planted 1,000 acres of corn and estimated he yielded more than 100 bushels per acre, slightly better than in 1989.

Commissioner President Donald I. Dell also fared better than 100 bushels per acre on the 500-plus acres of corn he planted at his Sullivan Road farm and echoed Meeks' satisfaction with the crop.

"It's a good feeling to go out there and see those lush fields rather than drought-stricken plants," he said.

The Lippy Brothers of Hampstead did even better, averaging 131 bushels per acre on 4,000 planted acres, said co-owner Donald Lippy.

While no countywide figures on the number of acres planted or the yield are available yet, average yieldsare estimated to be around 125 bushels per acre, the same as 1989, said David Greene, agriculture science extension agent.

"The yields were pretty good," he noted. "Water and timely rains helped -- rain has more to do with the corn crop than any other single factor.

"The most important time (for rain) is prior to pollination -- late July or early August is when most corn is pollinating and that's when the corn crop is made."

As of Nov. 1, 49.5 million bushels of corn statewide had been harvested, the largest amount since 1985 when 70 million bushels were grown, said Carroll Homann, a statistician with the Maryland Agricultural Statistical Service.

Maryland farmers planted 550,000 acres of corn in 1990, up from 480,000 in 1989, Homann said.

Greene estimated that 55,000 to 57,000 acres in Carroll County were planted with corn in 1990.

Of course, the abundant crop is having one drawback for area farmers -- prices have dropped an average of 25 cents to 50 cents a bushel since last summer.

Farmers are averaging only $2.25 to $2.65 a bushel right now, depending on where they sell their corn.

Those farmers who sell their corn in the Lancaster, Pa., area are getting more per bushel than those who sell locally, partly because of the longer distance involvedin transporting the grain and also because of the heavy feed industry there.

Southern States in Westminster, which buys much of itscorn locally, was paying $2.30 a bushel in mid-December, said store manager Aubrey Bly.

But Meeks was getting $2.55 a bushel in Lancaster, while the Lippys were selling their corn for $2.45 to $2.65 in Pennsylvania.

Dell said his family, which "feeds a good lot and stores our own corn and corn for other farmers," was paying $2.25-$2.50 a bushel.

The abundant crop also caused some problems at harvest time this past fall when some of the grain couldn't be moved fast enough if storage space was limited.

"Where we're selling corn, those elevators are full, too, and that kind of slowed down theharvest," Dell said.

But, there is one factor that should helpkeep prices stable, at least later on.

"We're in a deficit area in Maryland," Lippy said. "(Meaning) we use more corn than we produce, then it has to be shipped in by rail from the Midwest, which helps to keep our prices up."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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