Even with higher than normal precipitation, the Mid-Shore’s corn crop looks to be a good one this year. Across the Eastern Shore, farmers are beginning to harvest their crops planted in the spring. Despite heavy and frequent rain damaging some early-planted corn, many farmers bounced back well. While the final figures for acres planted are not in, an estimated 20,000 acres of corn were planted in Dorchester this year. This is down from 23,000 in 2008 and 32,000 in 2007. The yields vary depending on where in Dorchester the corn is planted. In drier areas, farmers are expected to harvest between 125 to 175 bushels per acre. Some areas using irrigation and corn designed for maximum yield are getting between 250 and 260 bushels per acre. Because of the Eastern Shore’s relationship with the Chesapeake Bay and laws regulating runoff from farms, Delmarva farmers had challenges others across the nation did not have.
In Caroline County, Jim Lewis of the Cooperative Extension Office said 2009’s crop will be better than average and better than last year’s crop, but thought prices would be down a bit. In 2008, Lewis said corn sold for as much as $7 a bushel. This year, he thought it could end up between $3.40 and $3.50 per bushel, with farmers who locked in their prices earlier in the year with contractors getting between $6 and $6.50. Despite the lower price, Lewis said farmers may be able to make up some of the difference by having better yields this year. Lewis thought most farms bringing in 100 to 170 bushels per acre in a normal year should at least have that much, if not more. Farms using irrigation may have yields up to 275 bushels per acre, and some farms could actually hit 300 bushels per acre.