Corn production increases met with rising costs
Corn is big business in the Delmarva states. It is the largest field crop in Delaware and Maryland and is the second largest field crop in Virginia. Cash receipts for corn were $203.2 million in Virginia in 2021, according to the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.
The USDA’s 2021 Field Crop Summaries for the Delmarva states, issued on Jan. 12, showed increased production compared to 2020.
In Delaware, corn for grain production was estimated at 31.6 million bushels in 2021, up 12 percent from the 2020 estimate.
The average yield in the state was estimated at 184 bushels per acre, 24 bushels per acre above the 2020 average yield of 160 bushels per acre.
A total of 172,000 acres were harvested for grain, down 2 percent from 2020. Corn silage production was estimated at 63,000 tons, down 17 percent from 2020. Silage yield was estimated at 21 tons per acre, up 2 tons per acre in 2020. About 3,000 acres were harvested for silage in 2021, down 25% from 2020.
In Maryland, corn for grain production was estimated at 74.4 million bushels in 2021, up 12 percent from the 2020 estimate. The average yield in the state was estimated at a record high 175 bushels per acre, 20 bushels per acre above the 2020 average yield of 155 bushels per acre. The area harvested for grain was estimated at 425,000 acres, down 1 percent from 2020. Corn silage production was estimated at 700,000 tons, up 3 percent from 2020. Silage yield was estimated at 20 tons per acre, up 3 tons per acre from 2020. Area harvested for silage was estimated at 35,000 acres, down 13% from a year ago.
Corn production in Virginia was estimated at 59.2 million bushels in 2021, down 2 percent from the November forecast, but up 16 percent from the previous crop.
Yield was estimated at 160 bushels per acre, up 5 bushels per acre from the previous forecast and up 38 bushels per acre from the 2020 level.
Acres for harvest as grain were estimated at 370,000 acres, down 50,000 acres from 2020.
To put these statistics from Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia into perspective, the USDA reported U.S. corn farmers produced 15.1 billion bushels in 2021, up 7 percent from 2020 and the second highest on record. Corn yield in the United States was estimated at a record high 177 bushels per acre, 5.6 bushels above the 2020 yield of 171.4 bushels per acre.
A total of 85.4 million acres of corn was harvested nationwide, up 4 percent from 2020.
“Most of the corn produced in Virginia is consumed by the poultry, swine, and cattle industries,” said Michael Wallace, Director of Communications of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “Some producers sell their corn to local country elevators where it is stored and then sold, while other producers will store corn on their farm before it is sold. A fairly significant amount of corn is barged across the Chesapeake Bay to the Perdue feed mill in Salisbury, Maryland, where it is ground into poultry feed.
“Depending on market conditions, a very small amount of corn can get shipped in containers out of the Port of Virginia to destinations around the world.”
Difficulties in the general economy during 2021 have had their impact on the corn crop in the Delmarva states.
“Supply chain disruptions and transportation will be even bigger issues in 2022,” stated Tony Banks, Senior Assistant Director of Agriculture, Development, and Innovation for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Domestic and guest worker labor will be even more challenging in 2022, due to availability and cost.”
He noted that “equipment, parts, pesticides, fertilizer, [and] seed will be difficult to acquire and will cost more; feed will cost more (input & freight), delivering crops to market … combination of component or raw material availability, manufacturing labor) COVID-19 or government-induced effects), transportation availability, and cost will be worse in 2022, but even more so due to U.S. and Canadian transportation vaccine mandates.”