corn

Kentucky Corn Growers Association

Many segments of the economy have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is positive news for Kentucky agriculture.

Corn and soybean crops are having a very good year.

Kentucky farmers are forecast to harvest 259 million bushels of corn this year, an increase of six percent over 2019. 

David Knopf is regional director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service based in Louisville. He said the temperature and rainfall have been good for corn, and harvesting is expected to continue for a few more weeks.

KY Grains

The new U.S. Department of Agriculture census released April 11 shows mid-sized farms in Kentucky farms are on the decline.

The new USDA Census of Agriculture is based on data collected from farms across the country for the year 2017. That census is done very five years, so the 2017 state-by-state data is compared to previous statistics from 2012.

David Knopf is regional director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service based Louisville. He said the new census confirms a trend in Kentucky that the number of  small and large farms are increasing, while those in the middle are disappearing. 


Liam Niemeyer

Mick Henderson runs the Commonwealth Agri-Energy ethanol plant in western Kentucky. He said the past year for U.S. ethanol producers, including in the Ohio Valley, has been rough.

“We’ve just passed our 15th anniversary just now, and this is going to be one of our weakest years,” Henderson said.

Ethanol prices have been down the past year because supply of the grain-based fuel is at a record high. Retaliatory tariffs on corn from countries like China have also hurt prices because corn and grain targeted by tariffs are used by ethanol plants.


Liam Niemeyer

Western Kentucky Farmer Barry Alexander doesn’t have an answer on when the Trump administration will reach a trade deal with China, now a year into tariffs that have hamstrung some Ohio Valley industries.

Alexander is optimistic these continued negotiations will be worth it, but his plan in the meantime lies in massive, silver storage bins on Cundiff Farms, the 13,000-acre operation he manages.

He pulls a lever, and out tumbles a downpour of pale yellow soybeans.


Kevin Willis

Corn farmers in south central Kentucky say the dry summer didn't affect crops as much as they feared.

Smiths Grove farmer Chad Elkins, for one, was expecting spotty crops this season but he says that wasn't the case in his fields. Another farmer, David Hunt, says modern crop genetics make the crop better able to handle dry conditions. But Hunt says the low rainfall meant his yield was down to 125 bushels an acre compared to 200 bushels an acre last year.

The brutal weather this summer throughout the Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee region is leading to dire consequences for farmers and consumers. Some corn farmers in southern and western Kentucky have had almost all of their crop wiped out this season. That has many agriculture experts predicting both short and long term effects on commodity and food prices throughout the region.

Kentucky's corn crop took a sharp turn for the worse during last week's record-breaking heat, and nearly half the crop is in poor condition as a drought lingers in some key producing areas.