Corn harvest excellent despite drought and record heat - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Corn harvest excellent despite drought and record heat

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August 17, 2007

Lee County -- The skyrocketing demand for corn because of ethanol production persuaded South Georgia farmers to plant a record crop this summer. The corn harvest is wrapping up now.  And despite extreme drought and record heat, the yield and quality for irrigated corn is being rated excellent.

Wendell Arrington planted 700 acres of corn, the most he has ever planted, to take advantage of high corn prices. Despite hot, dry weather this field is producing an impressive 240 bushels an acre. He'll get nearly four dollars a bushel, but still does not know if he will make a profit for his crop. Arrington said "even though the yields are higher than what we anticipated, I don't know if the yields are going to offset the expenses of the crop overall."

Arrington said fuel and energy costs to run irrigation machines almost all summer, and fertilizer prices made this a very expensive crop to grow. Arrington said "Corn is a crop that thrives very highly on nitrogen, and the cost of nitrogen has almost tripled in three years. Then you got your minor elements, and the cost has just shot out of the roof on them."

University of Georgia agriculture economists say Georgia farmers planted almost twice as much corn this year as last. Almost all the dry land corn in South Georgia was a total loss, but the irrigated crop production was excellent.

 Farmers hope that corn can prove to be an important ingredient in solving America's energy needs. But this brutal summer drought could keep this productive yield from being as profitable as they hoped for, and Arrington wondering if he will plant as much corn next year. Arrington said "When all is said and done, and see if corn is the way we want to go next year. Or maybe take another route."

The demand for corn for energy needs, and the commodity prices being paid, will be closely watched by South Georgia farmers.

National figures show farmers planted almost ten million more acres of corn in 2007 than in 2006 .   A total of almost 80-million acres.

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