Grain production is down in Virginia

By Henry Culvyhouse

Virginia has experienced a decrease in grain production in 2014, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Winter wheat production was down 2 percent from 2013, with farmers harvesting 17.7 million bushels. The total planted acreage for wheat was 290,000 acres, a 13 percent drop from last year. Only 260,000 acres were harvested, a 10 percent decrease. However, the amount of bushels per acre was up six bushels from 2013, totaling 68 bushels.

Barley production totaled 2.21 million bushels, a 39 percent drop from last year’s crop. Planted acreage amounted to 56,000 acres, 16,000 less than last year. The acres of barley harvested amounted to 28,000, a 16,000-acre drop from last year. The yield per acre totaled 79 bushels, down three bushels from last year.

Herman Ellison, of the statistics service, said the drop in grain production is generally dependent on the price the grain sells for and how well the farmer did the year before.

“At the end of the day, it’s supply and demand and the prices are going to drive what farmers do,” Ellison said. “Also, farmers have to factor how much grain stock they have from last year. If last year’s harvest is stored on the farm, the farmer is going to sell what he has and not plant as much.”

Virginia did see a 67 percent increase in oats harvested, totaling 234,000 bushels. The amount of planted acreage held steady at 10,000 acres, while the amount of acres harvested increased by 1,000, to a total of 3,000 acres. The yield of bushels per acre was 78, an eight-bushel increase from 2013.

Ellison said the increased oats production is not unusual for Virginia.

“Most years, about 2,000 to 3,000 acres of oats are harvested in Virginia, so while a 67 percent increase seems like a lot, it’s just business as usual,” Ellison said.

The latest information at the county level on grain production dates back to 2012 and 2013. In 2012, Shenandoah County harvested 23,000 bushels of winter wheat and 25,989 bushels of oats. Warren County harvested 8,680 bushels of winter wheat in 2012. In 2013, Shenandoah produced 53,000 bushels of barley from 720 acres. County data for 2014 will be released in February.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or at hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com.