Tennessee Crops Fare Well, Despite Drought

Harvest season is winding down, and most Tennessee crops have done well this year, despite long spell of hot, dry weather. In fact, many crop yields are exceeding expectations.

Tennessee farmers will pick nearly 44 million bushels of soybeans this year, that’s about a 9 % increase from 2011. Cotton production is up as well and tobacco farmers are getting the highest prices for their crop in eight years.

It’s a nice finish to a year many in the agriculture industry thought would be a complete bust. Corn and hay harvests suffered, because of a record dry summer. This year’s corn harvest is expected to be Tennessee’s smallest in two decades. Phil Dawson grows more than 400 acres of corn on his farm in Cheatham County.


“The dry weather just cooked it, dried it up. Yields were about 50 percent of our normal years. The only thing saves us was the prices was good.”


Dawson says his crop usually sells for about four dollars a bushel. This year, he got around seven dollars, which made up for corn lost to the blistering heat. The US Department of Agriculture says most crops Tennessee–except for tobacco—have been completely harvested.

One bushel of corn = about 56 pounds.

Estimate of 2012 corn production in Tennessee: 86.3 million bushels (down 10% from 2011)
Soybeans: 43.9 million bushels (up 9% from 2011)

Cotton is measured in pounds per acre. Tennessee farmers are projected to pick 896 pounds of cotton per acre, up 100 pounds from last year.

Despite the drop in production, farmers are planting more acres of corn than ever. The US Department of Agriculture says 240,000 more acres were planted in Tennessee this year than 2011–the most since 1961. Read more from the USDA here. [PDF]

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