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Survey finds healthy corn and soybean crops in warmer-than-average season

  • Rachel McDevitt/StateImpact Pennsylvania
Corn grows in a York County field as a storm approaches on July 4, 2019.

Rachel McDevitt / WITF

Corn grows in a York County field as a storm approaches on July 4, 2019.

(Harrisburg) — A recent survey shows two of Pennsylvania’s major cash crops appear to be in good condition heading into the fall harvest season.

It’s the second year in a row researchers with Penn State Extension have set out to take a snapshot of corn and soybean growing conditions in the commonwealth.

They surveyed corn and soybean crops in more than 100 fields across 26 counties.

“With most of the weather that we had this summer, there were relatively few periods of stress–and if it was, maybe more localized across the state,” said agronomy educator Zachary Larson. “So, for the most part, a lot of our crops looked like they’re in really good condition.”

Larson said no scarcity is expected at this point — but notes he can’t predict harvests, because unexpected events can still impact the growing season.

While the local market may be stable, the commonwealth’s farmers do rely on imports of the two crops to feed livestock through the winter.

Researchers were caught off guard by one climate-related finding.

Larson said he was surprised to find that, while there weren’t that many days over 95 degrees this summer, most of the fields had a hotter-than average season.

“In agriculture we use what are called growing degree days, which is basically an accumulation of heat,” he said. “And most of the areas where we were were actually warmer over the entire summer than what is our 15-year average.”

Larson noted climate data shows the 15-year average for growing degree days is higher than the 30-year average — meaning the past 15 years have been warmer than the previous 15.

The survey event was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Soybean Board and the Pennsylvania Corn Growers Association.

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