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Virginia grain farmers faring better than national counterparts

Virginia grain farmers faring better than national counterparts

RICHMOND—While grain producers in the Midwest struggle to plant this year’s corn and soybean crops, Virginia farmers are in good shape as summer approaches.

“It’s the age-old equation in commodity prices,” said Robert Harper, grain marketing manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Someone’s problem is somebody else’s profit. Every producer I’m talking to is grateful to be able to lock in profitable prices for new crop corn, but they’re sorry it’s because of the misfortune of fellow farmers.”

Harper said spring plantings for Virginia peanuts, cotton, beans and corn are right on target. “There are pockets in the state right now that are a little short on moisture, and there are pockets in the state where producers say their crops couldn’t look any better,” he shared.

The June 10 U.S. Department of Agriculture crop report said Virginia corn planting was 96 percent complete, and 79 percent of the crop was rated good to excellent.

The report estimated only 83 percent of the nation’s corn crop had been planted, compared to a 5-year average of 99 percent on that date. Soybean plantings were 60 percent complete, compared to the 5-year average of 88 percent. “That’s the slowest start for grain producers since the USDA started tracking in the early 1980s,” Harper noted.

“Tractors are getting stuck in the mud, fields are completely underwater and Mother Nature is doing her best to keep crops from being put into the ground,” summarized a recent American Farm Bureau Federation market report.

“It’s not just the record flooding you see on the national news,” Harper shared. “Tens of millions of acres of farmland are so soggy from excess rain and flooding this spring that producers can’t get their equipment out in the field.”

He noted that on May 13 corn futures prices started recovering from a 3½-year low. Soybean futures prices were at a 10-year low. Commodity markets are influenced by a wide range of factors, including recent trade tariffs. But weather worries are always a major influence, Harper explained.

“As of June 12, the price of Virginia corn to be delivered to the Shenandoah Valley this September has completely recovered from a year ago,” he said. “Markets change daily, but the speculators started buying back futures contracts three weeks ago, and the futures prices have been rising steadily as weather worries grow in the Midwest.

Media: Contact Harper at 804-290-1105 or Norm Hyde, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1146.