Carroll farmers expect good harvest, high yields Most of Maryland not as fortunate


Carroll County farmers are expecting a good harvest this year, particularly compared with other areas of the state.

"We're probably the only county in the state that's going to have a decent crop, with the exception possibly of Baltimore County," said Carroll County extension agent David Greene. "We got rain at the right time."

Recent rains have put many farmers a bit behind schedule for getting the crop in, Mr. Greene said. But there is little danger of losing much of the crop to bad weather.

"We've got plenty of time as far as harvest goes," he said. "They can work if the ground is hard and cold. The worst thing that could happen is snow.

"With corn, the ears might drop on the ground and the soybeans go down, making it harder to harvest. The later you go, you might not be able to harvest what's out there because the plants aren't in place for the combine to get them."

Ron Sewell, who raises grains, trees and produce in Taneytown, said last week's wet weather delayed his soybean harvest. But his pumpkins and nursery trees are right on schedule.

"The weather forecast is good for the next five days," he said Friday. "The soybeans are a bit off, but we should be starting on Monday again."

Sheer volume is also lengthening the harvest season, Mr. Greene said.

"It takes longer when you're used to getting 40 to 50 bushels per acre, and now you're getting 100," he said. "We had a good year last year. We'll be a lot lower than last year, but it will be a good year when all is said and done for Carroll County."

Mr. Sewell said the 500 acres he farms are yielding more bushels per acre than he usually gets. The early and middle-season soybeans are yielding about 10 bushels per acre more than usual, and he estimates the late soybeans will give him about 5 bushels per acre better than his average.

"As a whole, the crops were very good," he said. "There was adequate moisture. We had somewhat of a dry spell for a while, which did hurt the yield on some of the soybean crops. But it's better than the average."

However, the longer it takes to harvest the beans, the later

winter crops get planted, Mr. Greene noted.

"The rains have held wheat planting up quite a bit," he said. "We like to get it in by around the 15th or 20th of October. Any time after that hurts the yield somewhat. We can go up until the first of November, but we like to get it [planting] done by the first half of the season."

The rest of Maryland has not been so lucky. Montgomery County has been declared a disaster area because of a lack of rain, said Kelly Hereth, executive director of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) in Carroll.

"All contiguous counties are considered eligible for emergency feed programs," she said.

Carroll County farmers without crop insurance who lost more than 40 percent of their harvest may apply for assistance, Ms. Hereth said. Farmers with crop insurance who lost more than 35 percent of their harvest may also apply.

"There is a possibility there are a select few [eligible]," she said. "It would be so spotty. It could be almost anywhere in the county. We saw a fair year. Compared to other counties in the state of Maryland, [the farmers] did very well."

Also, federal disaster programs designed to help Midwestern farmers who lost crops to flood or those in the south and northwest parts of the United States are available to qualifying Carroll County farmers.

"When [federal officials] offer disaster programs, they have to be offered nationwide," Ms. Hereth said.

Each assistance request is examined to make sure the losses are due to weather and not poor farming practices, she said. Applications are then taken to the county's three-member ASCS board for approval.

Farmers may apply for assistance through March 4, Ms. Hereth said.

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