Bumper crops follow drought '92 yields are a relief after disaster of '91

September 20, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Harney farmer Ronnie Sewell is reluctant to criticize this summer's weather.

"We could've used a few more hot days," he said. "I hate to say that after what we went through in '91."

Last year, county farmers experienced the worst drought in memory. Rainfall in the Westminster area was about 10 inches below normal.

County farmers lost 70 percent of their corn crops, 80 percent of their pasture lands and 62 percent of their soybeans.

This year is a different story.

Rainfall as of Sept. 11 in the Westminster area was about 3 inches below the normal level of 25 inches, said Carroll D. Homann of the Maryland Agricultural Statistics Service.

"I'll take a year like this over '91," said Mr. Sewell, who lives in the 3400 block of Harney Road and farms about 600 acres with his wife Lori.

Their 400 acres of wheat produced a bumper crop this year. "It was the best wheat crop we've ever had," Mr. Sewell said. They harvested 60 bushels per acre, he said.

Last year, the Sewells were fortunate that the drought that blighted the crops of so many area farmers did not affect their wheat crop as much as it could have. Their yield of 56 bushels per acre was close to the area's average of 48 to 55 bushels an acre, Mrs. Sewell said.

The Sewells also grow white and southwestern white pine, Norway and blue spruce, and Douglas fir trees on 90 acres.

Mr. Sewell said he is digging trees this week to sell to homeowners and landscapers at a retail lot on his property. The trees have good color because of the rain, he said.

Union Bridge dairy farmer Richard Flickinger said, "It's been an abnormal, bountiful year for farmers. It's just been a good year all around.

"We just got rain at the right time, and we got sunshine. I don't know if we'll see another one [year] like this."

This week Mr. Flickinger chopped cornstalks to use as feed for his cows. The work yielded 20 tons per acre. Last year, his yield was seven tons per acre. A normal year yields 15 tons per acre.

Grain farmer Lawrence E. Meeks said he planted 1,220 acres of corn and expects the harvest to be about two weeks late because of the cool weather. Corn needs heat to mature, he said.

"The season is somewhat behind because the summer was somewhat too cool," he said.

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