Rain, soggy fields delay harvest of bumper corn crop

December 20, 1992|By Frank Lynch | Frank Lynch,Staff Writer

Rainy weather and soggy fields have combined to delay harvesting what may be among the biggest corn crops of the past two decades.

Despite the delayed harvest and the prospect that some grain may rot in the fields, Perryman farmer Brownie Pearce said the yield per acre of his corn crop is the second largest in 20 years.

More than half of Mr. Pearce's 1,900-acre farm was planted in corn this year. About 110 acres of corn remain to be harvested. Mr. Pearce said the yield is 135 bushels per acre -- 28 more bushels per acre than last year's drought-devastated crop.

That current yield is only slightly behind the 141-bushel-an-acre bumper crop of 1985. "That year we had rain at exactly the right development time for our corn," said the 59-year-old Pearce.

He attributes the late harvest to an unusually cool August.

"Corn usually matures in the heat of August and allows us to get into the fields and complete the harvest by October," he said. "Then we can concentrate on our soybean crop. Ideally, I like to have the entire harvest complete by Thanksgiving."

Yields on soybeans are down, said Mr. Pearce. With 140 acres still in the fields, yield is 30-35 bushels per-acre compared with the 43 of 1991.

"A wet spring was responsible for a late wheat harvest," he said. "I like to be finished harvesting wheat by July 4 and come right behind it with planting soybeans. . . . We didn't get the soybeans in until mid-July."

Mr. Pearce's soybeans and wheat are sold for seed to Southern States Cooperative Inc., while the field corn is sold through two brokers -- Hostetter Co. in Oxford, Pa., and Southern States in Richmond, Va.

In the north end of the county, Joe Mulhausen has similar yields. The 108 acres of corn on his Prospect Hill Farm have produced 128 bushels per acre, an increase of 27 bushels over his 1991 total.

Soybean figures are off by 13 bushels per-acre from last year, dropping from 54 to 41. Mr. Mulhausen, 62, said that he was able to get his crop -- which included alfalfa, barley, mixed hay and wheat -- out of the field by Thanksgiving.

Robert Halman, extension agent for Harford County, said state and countywide yield figures won't be available until

mid-January.

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