Rhonda Garrison: USDA recently released its 2016 crop summary, and it was a very good year for corn in the Tar Heel State.
North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler: We had some predictions that 2016 would be the year of the corn because projected yields were looking so strong throughout the year. It definitely was a good year with an average yield of 129 bushels per acre. It did fall short of the record of 142 bushels per acre which was set in 2013. But considering the year, it was a good year.
RG: Total corn production in the state was huge.
Troxler: It was. We produced 121 million bushels of corn. 47% higher than 2015’s total. That’s good news for the livestock industries in North Carolina.
RG: Soybean production made a good showing as well.
Troxler: Soybean production was up 5% last year. We actually produced 58 million bushels on 1.66 million acres. The yielded average is 35 bushels per acre. It was a little bit surprising because we thought Hurricane Matthew would have done more damage to the beans than it did. I had people tell me that after they dried out, surprisingly they weren’t damaged and that’s what we’ve seen in grading soybeans this year.
RG: Now, speaking of Matthew: Matthew did do some damage to the peanut crop.
Troxler: It did. Peanut yields were down slightly from last year. We averaged 3,450 pounds per acre. The good news: production was up 13% to almost 303 million pounds because we harvested 99,000 acres of peanuts this year.
RG: Another crop that saw a big increase in 2016 was sweet potatoes.
Troxler: Amazingly, we planted 95,000 acres of sweet potatoes. And harvested these potatoes put in production at 17 million hundred weight. That’s a 5% increase in production over last year. We are producing a lot of sweet potatoes in North Carolina. We are still leading the nation. So overall, we had a good year.
RG: We did know that the cotton crop was going to take a big hit. We weren’t wrong.
Troxler: The cotton yield averaged 665 pounds per acre. Which is pretty miserable. 48 pounds less than 2015, which was another miserable year. Production was down 32% , at 360,000 bails.
RG: We have mentioned Hurricane Matthew. All of the talk in October and November was: “What was the damage assessment going to be?” As it turns out, it’s not really as high as we had anticipated.
Troxler: As a farmer, I know that you really don’t know what you’ve got until you harvest it and get it in the bin. These numbers don’t talk about lost quality. We know that there was quality lost in several of the crops that were damaged by Matthew. But also, it doesn’t give you much solace if you were the person that lost all of your crop. And the guy 5 miles from you actually had a good crop. So it’s averages of what we’re taking about.