LOUISVILLE — A rain-soaked spring planting season — combined with a scorching summer — have cut into some autumn yields, but Kentucky's corn and soybean crops showed resilience to those weather swings as farmers wind down their harvest.
Corn harvesting was 80 percent complete heading into this week, and 55 percent of the crop was rated good or excellent, according to a crop-reporting service. Thirty-six percent of the crop was fair and 9 percent was in poor shape, it said.
Farmers had more work ahead in cutting soybeans. The harvest was 40 percent finished at the start of this week, well behind last year's pace. Fifty-eight percent of the crop was good or excellent, 31 percent fair and 11 percent poor, the report said.
Rainfall settling into Kentucky on Wednesday temporarily put the brakes on the harvest.
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In the western Kentucky grain belt, yields varied from bin-busting amounts approaching 200 bushels an acre to much skimpier levels.
Farmers in Caldwell County brought in corn yields averaging about 150 bushels an acre, which is fairly typical, said Shane Bogle, the local agricultural extension agent. The crop endured the slow start and hot summer with the help of timely rains in July and August, he said.
"It bounced back great," he said. "The deciding factor was that the moisture continued."
Overall, Kentucky's corn production is forecast at 177.9 million bushels and yield is expected to be 139 bushels per acre, up 15 bushels from last year, the crop-reporting service said recently. It's part of what's projected to be the nation's fourth-largest corn production on record.
Soybean production in Kentucky is forecast at 57.3 million bushels, up 21 percent from last year, according to the report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service's Kentucky field office. Yield is pegged at 39 bushels an acre, which would be up 5 bushels from 2010.
Burley tobacco production in Kentucky is forecast at 128 million pounds, down 9 percent from last year, the crop-reporting service said. Average per-acre yield is estimated at 2,000 pounds, up 50 pounds per acre from 2010.
Tobacco hanging in the barns was rated 51 percent good, 29 percent fair, 12 percent excellent and 8 percent poor or very poor.
September rains improved tobacco curing in Kentucky, the nation's top producer of burley — an ingredient in cigarettes. During the curing process, long green tobacco leaves gradually change to a reddish brown tint that prepares the burley for markets opening late in the year.