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Crop Yields Burned by Drought, Heat

Hot, dry weather is withering crops across North Carolina, state agriculture officials said Friday.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Hot, dry weather is withering crops across North Carolina, state agriculture officials said Friday.

Yields are down significantly for corn, cotton, soybeans and peanuts, state Department of Agriculture officials said in a new crop report. The apple and peach crops were already ravaged by a mid-April freeze.

Meanwhile, tobacco production is ahead of last year's pace, the report said.

Corn yields are expected to drop to 94 bushels an acre from last year's record of 132 bushels. Overall corn production should drop 1 percent from a year ago, but Department of Agriculture spokesman Brian Long said that is because the acreage planted statewide is up about 26 percent.

Soybean yields are forecast to drop from 32 bushels an acre to 27 bushels, peanut yields are expected to drop by 10 percent and corn production is expected to be down to 682 pounds per acre from 713 pounds, according to the report.

The report is based on surveys conducted at the beginning of August, so it doesn't reflect the searing heat the region has experienced this week, Long said.

"If we don't get some rain, it's only going to get worse," he said.

An Easter weekend freeze decimated peach and apple crops, and any North Carolina-grown fruit showing up at local farmers' markets has jumped in price as a result, Long said.

"It's still really early for some of these crops to know what the true impact for consumers is going to be," he said.

Yields for both flue-cured and burley tobacco are expected to be slightly ahead of 2006, but Long said officials are worried about hay production, which is forecast to be down about 15 percent from a year ago, and its impact on animals over the coming winter.

Rain is the only solution to the problem, Long said.

"Pray for rain," he said. "If we get some good, sustained rain, some of these crops may be able to bounce back."


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