Grain farmers looking to big year Prices best in memory, and crops are thriving in Maryland's fields

July 26, 1996|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

CENTREVILLE -- Maryland grain farmers are looking at the possibility of their best harvest and biggest paychecks in at least five years.

"Things are looking good out in the field," said Charles Jameson, a Western Montgomery County farmer attending the annual meeting of the Maryland Grain Producers Association.

"It could be a real good year, or even a great year," he added. "There's great potential for this crop, but you never know for sure until you complete the harvest."

In addition to the possibility of reaping their best yields per acre of the decade, Maryland grain farmers stand to benefit from the best prices in memory.

Corn prices in Central Maryland are running about $5.40 a bushel, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture's crop reporting service. This is up from $3.10 a bushel last July.

Others benefit when farmers prosper. Lewis Riley, secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture, noted that, when "Maryland farmers have a good year, the car dealers, furniture stores, restaurants and other rural retailers also have a good year."

Robert Hutchison, president of the Grain Producers Association, who farms 3,700 acres near Cordova, said growers "may not see record yields this year, but they will likely see above-average yields. But with prices this good, we could have record income."

Hutchinson said the recent rains from Tropical Storm Bertha "drowned out" some low land crops, which could cut yield by 10 percent to 20 percent on some farms.

The state Crop Reporting Service will make its first official estimate of the sizes of the state's corn and soybean crops on Aug. 12.

The bulk of the grain grown in Maryland goes to the poultry industry.

Pub Date: 7/26/96

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