Cotton Harvest

Cotton is harvested in a field near the border of Bamberg and Barnwell counties near Olar.

BAMBERG – Lower-than-desired commodity prices across the board and yields that are average to below average made for a relatively challenging year for Bamberg County growers.

Despite low prices, soybean acres increased in the county. Cotton plantings also increased as farmers were able to book the crop at higher prices. 

At least four other major crops were down or slightly down in planting, with one staying about the same, according to Chris Wallace, Bamberg County Farm Service Agency executive director.

Corn

Approximately 6,086 total acres of corn were planted this year in Bamberg County, about 100 acres less than last year.

About 90 percent of the crop was dryland.

“Non-irrigated corn production averaged about 125 bushels to 150 bushels per acre, which was very good overall," Wallace said.

“Irrigated corn averaged between 175 and 225 bushels per acre,” he said.

“Timely rains and moderate temperatures produced a good corn yield," Wallace said.

Corn prices were not where they needed to be.

“Corn price was disappointing at around $3.60 per bushel," Wallace said. "Producers would have liked to have received $5 per bushel.”

Peanuts

Peanut acreage was "significantly" lower this year than last year in the county, he said.

About 2,593 total acres of runner peanuts were planted this year - 1,000 acres less than last year.

Of those 2,593 runner peanut acres, about 500 acres were irrigated, Wallace reported.

Weather, specifically rain, did have an effect on peanuts. About 276 acres were not planted due to excessive rains in May, Wallace noted.

“Peanut harvest is not complete but some early yields are averaging between 1-1/2 tons to 2 tons per acre. Two tons per acre is considered a decent yield,” he said.

Peanut prices under contract are down to about $430 per ton. Farmers typically like to see prices around $600 per ton.

About 1,100 acres of Virginia peanuts were planted with about 250 of those acres under irrigation.

“Virginia peanuts will get $450 per ton," Wallace said. "Two tons is also a goal for Virginia peanuts.”

“Last year, peanut producers received $355 per ton by putting them under loan," Wallace said. "Peanut producers would have liked to have seen prices of about $500 per ton this year."

Cotton

Approximately 9,006 acres of cotton were planted this year in Bamberg County, which is 1,452 acres more than last year’s planted acreage.

Most of the acreage, approximately two-thirds, was non-irrigated, according to Wallace.

“Cotton harvest may be about half complete, and non-irrigated acres may be averaging between 750 to 800 pounds per acre, while irrigated acreage may be averaging about 900 pounds per acre," he said.

The effects of weather on cotton yields have not been determined yet, Wallace said.

“Hurricane Michael’s wind did some damage to the crop but full extent of damage is not yet known," he said.

Cotton prices have gone down somewhat as well, Wallace said.

“In the summer, some cotton was booked at about $0.90 per pound while current price is around $0.78 per pound," he said.

Soybeans

About 3,620 acres of soybeans were planted in 2018 in Bamberg County, some 200 acres more than last year.

“Soybean prices have been very low this year. Producers expect a good crop - maybe up to 45 to 50 bushels per acre on some farms,” Wallace said.

Soybeans are a couple of weeks away from harvest.

Oats

Approximately 969.4 acres of oats were planted in Bamberg County in 2018. This was slightly down from last year’s total of 1,082.6 acres.

“The average yield was around 62 bushels per acre, which was up slightly from last year," Wallace said. "It was an average to good year for oats locally."

“Preferred or very good yield would have been around 90 bushels per acre," he said.

Oats prices were around $3.50 per bushel while preferred price would have been about $4.25 per bushel, Wallace said.

The winter crop was damaged somewhat due to cold weather in January, he said.

Wheat

Approximately 565.9 acres of wheat were planted in Bamberg County this year compared to 397.9 acres in 2017.

“Wheat ranged from 20 bushels to 45 bushels per acre while local producers were hoping for a 70-bushel yield,” Wallace said.

Weather conditions affected wheat harvesting and yields, he said.

“Wet field conditions at harvest time delayed timely harvest in many locations, and the wheat yields suffered somewhat," Wallace said. "Cold weather in January also hurt some of the wheat crop."

Prices for the crop were also down.

“Wheat prices were around $5 per bushel while producers were hoping to receive around $8 per bushel," Wallace said.

The average 2018 wheat yield for South Carolina was 54 bushels per acre.

Sweet potatoes

About 126.4 acres of sweet potatoes were planted in Bamberg County in 2018.

“Yields for sweet potatoes were good,” Wallace said.

There was no significant insect damage or disease on 2018 crops, he said.

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Contact the writer: rbaxley37@gmail.com.

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Staff Writer

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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