With half their crop already in the bin, Maryland corn farmers are well on their way to a record harvest of 155 bushels per acre, the state Agriculture Department reported yesterday.
Ray Garibay, head of the Maryland Agricultural Statistics Service, said the corn yield was running 11.5 percent ahead of the previous record of 139 bushels per acre set in 1996.
Garibay said some lower Eastern Shore farms are expected to yield up to 300 bushels of corn from each acre planted. He said the previous high was 250 bushels per acre.
Based on field conditions as of Oct. 1, total corn production is forecast at 62 million bushels. This would make it 85 percent larger than last year's harvest.
The government estimated that Maryland's soybean harvest will yield 38 bushels per acre, the highest since the state began keeping records more than 100 years ago. Total soybean production is forecast at 18.6 million bushels, up 21 percent from last year.
While tobacco production in the United States is expected to be the lowest since 1934, Southern Maryland farmers are on track to harvest a slightly larger leaf crop this year than last. Production is forecast at 9.3 million pounds, up 2 percent.
However, the good fortunes of Maryland farmers are being duplicated throughout the nation's Corn Belt, resulting in big grain surpluses and low prices.
Although a late-summer drought slightly reduced the size of the national corn and soybean crops, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said both are expected to reach record highs when harvesting is completed.
U.S. corn production is forecast at 10.2 billion bushels, down 2 percent from last month's estimate, but up 8 percent from 1999. Soybean production is forecast at 2.82 billion bushels, down 3 percent from September's estimate, but 6 percent larger than last year's crop.
"The basic story continues," said private consultant John Schnittker. Surpluses remain unusually high, and prices remain very low.
Reuters contributed to this article.