Local Crops Make Comeback After Last Year's Devastating Drought

By Guy Leonard, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (July 17, 2008)—Recent acreage reports to the local Farm Service Agency in Leonardtown show that farmers are having a much better growing season this year as opposed to last summer when severe drought destroyed many crops and forced the federal government to declare much of the state an agricultural disaster zone.

The rains that have fallen on Southern Maryland in recent months have been enough not only to bring the region out of the drought but to allow a surge in crop growth and refill precious water resources like creeks and streams, according to the agency’s local director Amy Farrell.

“Farmers are optimistic about this year’s crop,” Farrell told The County Times. “The ponds are finally full and the streams are back to where they should be.

“That’s all good news.”

The outlook for corn and soybeans looks promising so far this season, Farrell said, as do barley and wheat.

Farmers are reporting as much as 75 to 80 bushels of yield per acre on average; some locations are yielding as much as 100 bushels an acre, she said.

However, all the rains have presented their own problems. Some double crops, or crops planted twice on the same field in the same crop year, cannot be planted because there is too much water still there.

Some corn in the southern portion of the county has been drowned as a result of the heavy rains, Farrell said.

Though some small amount of the crop has been lost, the current situation represents a dramatic change from last year.

Overall crop losses during last year’s drought at the same time were about 65 to 70 percent. Some smaller farming operations experienced a total loss of their crop.

Some fields last year only produced about 20 to 30 bushels per acre of crops like corn and soybeans.

St. Mary’s County crop damage was worse than the state’s overall average crop loss figures of between 30 to 60 percent.

“It’s funny we couldn’t find a rain drop last year,” Farrell said. “It’s so much better to see green.”

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