Maryland corn crop estimate shrinks again

October 10, 1997


Associated Press Writer

Drought cut more deeply into Maryland's corn crop than expected, agriculture officials said Friday as they trimmed more than 2 million bushels from their production estimate.

The revised forecast of 33.8 million bushels is 6 percent below the September estimate and 48 percent below last year's crop of 64.6 million bushels.

The corn harvest, now more than 25 percent complete, is revealing smaller yields than farmers anticipated, according to Bruce West of the Maryland Agricultural Statistics Service.


``The stalks looked good and everything but they just didn't produce ears like they expected them to,'' he said.

The agency lowered its average yield estimate to 75 bushels per acre from 80.

Maryland farmers will harvest 13.3 million bushels of soybeans this year, 25 percent less than last year, the agency said. The estimate was unchanged from September.

The drought was most severe in Frederick County, where farmers lost 80 percent of their corn due to lack of rain, according to the federal Farm Service Agency. Kent, Washington and Carroll counties were also hit hard, with corn losses of 70 to 75 percent, the agency said.

``This is the worst summer I have had but everybody is in the same situation here,'' Walkersville dairy farmer James Roderuck said.

He and other Frederick County farmers who didn't produce enough grain to feed their cows are getting some relief from hay donations orchestrated by the county government.

The haylift has distributed about 160 tons of hay donated by southern Maryland and Eastern Shore farms, according to John Droneburg, the county's public safety and emergency service director.

``Right now, we think everybody can get through this month. We're working on getting everybody through the winter,'' Droneburg said.

Roderuck received 100 square bales from the haylift clearinghouse at Fort Detrick this week and said he would be glad for more.

``What I grow usually feeds enough for the cows,'' he said. But this year, some of Roderuck's corn grew just 3 feet tall, less than one-third of its normal height.

He said he has planted rye and wheat to harvest in the spring for cattle feed.

Much of the heavy lifting for the haylift is being handled by off-duty Fort Detrick soldiers. The bales are transported to Frederick by truckers returning from southern and eastern points with trailers that would otherwise be empty.

Nationally, corn production is forecast at 9.3 billion bushels, up fractionally from last year, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.

The U.S. soybean crop will rise 14 percent to 2.7 billion bushels, the USDA said.

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