Surveys from the U.S. Department of Agriculture predict Delaware’s principal crops, including corn and soybeans, will occupy more than 400,000 acres of Delaware farmland this year.
Often used as chicken feed, corn and soybeans help drive Delaware’s robust poultry industry.
The USDA predicts 175,000 acres will be used to plant corn in Delaware this year, up from 170,000 in both 2015 and 2016.
Sussex County Extension Agriculture Agent Cory Whaley said this year’s mild winter and early spring could allow farmers to grow more crops. And that would bring prices down.
“We’re looking at lower prices, probably comparable to what we saw last year, but definitely a lot lower than what we saw three, four, five years ago,” Whaley said. “And weather is always a wildcard.”
Soybeans may see a little bit of a dip in the First State, with the USDA predicting 160,000 acres will be used for planting. That’s down 5,000 acres from last year. But Whaley said that’s not too far off from past predictions for soybeans, which tend to see frequent ups and downs in the trend each year.
Statistics also show farmers could plant wheat on as many as 65,000 acres this year. Whaley said that’s much higher than what he expected, especially in Sussex County. Last year, farmers planted wheat on 70,000 acres.
“The big thing of course is lack of profitability,” Whaley said. “The wheat price is really low and the cost of production seems really high. We’ve had three to four years in a row where for the amount of money you’re putting into your wheat crop, it just hasn’t been profitable.”
The USDA also predicts that Delawareans will harvest hay on 14,000 acres, 3,000 less than last year.