2011 Row Crop Production Prospects Encouraging Despite Many Challenges

Tennessee farmers look forward to a much improved production year in 2011 over the previous weather-reduced one. When combines roll into the fields this fall, corn and soybean producers, in particular, expect good-to-excellent yields. Crop conditions in year 2011, similar to the previous year, have been very unusual. State Director, Debra Kenerson notes, “Plantings were delayed by excess moisture and floods in May and dry weather set-in during June.” She further added, “July was a mixed bag, with some growers receiving ample moisture while others continued to face dry weather.” In brief, an August 1 survey of farmers conducted by the Tennessee Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service showed the following: Corn, 136 bushels per acre, up 19 bushels from last year’s yield of 117 bushels; Cotton, 849 pounds per acre, up 4 pounds from last year; Soybeans, 36 bushels per acre, up 5 bushels per acre from 2010; Burley Tobacco, 1,900 pounds per acre, up by 240 pounds per acre from last year; and Hay, excluding alfalfa, 2.3 tons per acre, up slightly from 2010.


Tennessee’s cotton production is projected to be 805,000 bales, up 18 percent from last year’s production of 681,000 bales. Cotton yields are forecast to average 849 pounds per acre, up 4 pounds per acre from the previous year. Producers expect to harvest 455,000 acres, up 68,000 acres from 2010. Tennessee’s cotton crop is rated in good-to-excellent condition, but is about a week to ten days behind normal development. The crop generally received adequate heat units and moisture during July. Insect pressure from pests such as stink bugs, plant bugs and bollworms has been moderate and producers have been scouting and spraying accordingly. Nearly all the cotton acreage is setting bolls.


Soybean production is anticipated to be 48.2 million bushels, up 10 percent from last year. Soybean yields are projected at 36.0 bushels per acre, an increase of 5 bushels per acre from 2010. Acreage for harvest is estimated at 1.34 million acres, down 70,000 from a year ago. Tennessee producers struggled to plant the 2011 crop. Spring flooding and wet fields pushed back plantings. The soybean crop is moving forward at a pace slightly over a week behind the normal rate of development. The crop is blooming and setting pods. Over 70 percent of the soybean crop is rated in good-to-excellent condition.


Tennessee’s corn production is forecast at 96.56 million bushels, up 29 percent from a year ago, and, if realized, would be the highest production since 1917. Yields are expected to average 136 bushels per acre, an increase of 19 bushels per acre from 2010, and 13 better than the 5-year average. Farmers plan to harvest 710,000 acres for grain, 70,000 more acres than last year. Despite widespread flooding, prolonged wet fields and re-plants, corn planting was almost complete by the end of May with the crop emerging nicely. The state’s major corn producing areas received timely rains during the critical pollination phase. Roughly 80 percent of the state’s corn crop has reached the dough stage with over half of the crop in the dent stage. The majority of this year’s corn crop is rated in good-to-excellent condition.


Tennessee apple growers are expected to produce an estimated 8.5 million pounds of apples, up from last year’s production of 7.5 million pounds. The apple crop is developing at a normal pace and is rated in mostly good condition. Dry weather this summer has had a negative impact on production in some areas.



Burley production is estimated to reach 30.4 million pounds, up 22 percent from a year ago. Yield is forecast to average 1,900 pounds per acre, up 240 pounds per acre from last year’s poor yielding crop. Acreage for harvest is estimated at 16,000 acres, an increase of 1,000 acres from 2010. The burley tobacco crop is maturing at a near normal pace. Producers are topping and beginning to harvest now. Tennessee’s dark-fired tobacco yields are forecast at 2,950 pounds per acre, up 50 pounds from last year, while dark air-cured is forecast to yield 2,700 pounds per acre, up 100 pounds from 2010.


Hay production, excluding alfalfa, is forecast at 4.37 million tons, up 7 percent from 2010. Yields are expected to average 2.3 tons per acre, up 0.2 tons per acre from last year. Acreage is estimated at 1.9 million acres, down 3 percent. Timely rains have promoted good pasture growth in many areas of Tennessee, although dry conditions exist in some parts of the state. Most producers have harvested a second cutting or are expecting one. Pastures are stressed from the extreme heat, but are in generally good condition for this time of year. Pastures are rated in mostly fair-to-good condition.  

View crop forecast, Tennessee and U.S. with comparisons (Aug. 1)