Crop production declines nationally, mixed in Colorado |

Crop production declines nationally, mixed in Colorado

Story & photos by Robyn Scherer, M.Agr. Staff Reporter

The drought is the number one concern for crop and livestock producers across not just Colorado, but the entire country. The crop progress report that USDA put out on August 10, reported that the estimated corn crop production for the entire U.S. will be the lowest this year since 2006, and the lowest yield since 1995.

“The 2012 corn planted area for all purposes is estimated at 96.4 million acres, unchanged from the June estimate but up 5 percent from 2011. This represents the highest planted acreage in the United States since 1937, when an estimated 97.2 million acres were planted. Area harvested for grain is forecast at 87.4 million acres, down 2 percent from the June forecast but up 4 percent from 2011,” according to the report.

It continued, “Widespread drought and extreme temperatures during June and July have had an adverse affect on the 2012 corn crop. As of July 29, only 24 percent of the corn acreage was rated in good to excellent condition in the 18 major producing states, compared to 62 percent rated in these two categories last year at this time. In contrast, 48 percent of the corn acreage was rated in very poor to poor condition in these same States, compared to only 14 percent rated in these two categories last year at this time. Eight of the major corn producing states report 50 percent or more of the corn acreage rated in very-poor to poor condition as of July 29.”

This decrease in production has created a large increase in the price of corn. As of mid-day on Friday, August 17, corn was trading for $8.02/bushel, and has traded as high as $8.29/bushel right after the report was released.

In Colorado, the yield for corn is actually expected to be higher than last year, at 135 bushels per acre compared to 133 last year. The area harvested, at 970,000 acres, is less than the 1.3 million acres from last year. This will result in an estimated total production of 130.95 million bushels, which is lower than the 172.9 million bushels that were brought in last year.

Drought conditions continue for Colorado as temperatures remain above average with below average precipitation. Irrigated crops continue to progress ahead of normal due to the hot temperatures. Non-irrigated crop conditions continue to decline due to the dry conditions, according to the August 13 Colorado Crop Progress report put out by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Colorado Field Office.

Corn progressed to 96 percent silked, 40 percent dough, and 5 percent dented. The crop condition ratings ranged evenly from very poor to good. The harvest of corn silage began last week with 2 percent harvested, according to the Colorado report.

Alfalfa production is expected to be lower in Colorado as well, according to the national crop progress report. Last year 800,000 acres were harvested, and this year that number is expected to be 790,000. The yield has decreased from 3.6 tons/acre to 3.2 tons/acre, and the expected production is 2.528 million tons, as compared to 2.88 last year.

All other hay harvested will also be lower. A total of 710,000 acres will be harvested, compared to 820,000 acres last year. The total production is expected to be 994,000 tons, which is lower than last year’s 1.23 million tons. The yield is expected to be lower as well, with 1.4 tons/acre harvested compared to 1.5 tons/acre last year.

The condition of pastureland continues to decline, and is rated mostly very poor to poor across the state. Alfalfa hay harvest reached 94 percent of the second cutting complete and 47 percent of the third cutting complete. The crop condition fell last week and ranged from good to very poor condition, according to the Colorado Crop Progress report.

Sugarbeet production is actually expected to rise this year, with an expected yield of 33.9 tons/acre, compared to 28.9 tons/acre last year. The total production is expected to be 1.007 million tons on 297,000 acres. Last year 287,000 acres were harvested at a total production rate of 829,000 tons. Sugarbeets were rated in mostly good to fair condition as of August 13.

Peach production is also forecasted to be higher. Last year the state produced 12,000 tons, and this year it is expected to produce 15,000 tons.

Apple production is expected to rise as well, with a forecast of 17 million pounds, compared to just 9 million pounds last year. ❖

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