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EARLIER: Crops top last year's drought-plagued yields

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By Bobbie Lanham

"We're sleeping better this August," said Jack Trumbo as a forecast for Shelby County crop yields.

Trumbo, chairman of the Kentucky Soybean Board and president of the Shelby County Farm Bureau, said that soybeans, burley tobacco and corn will all have improved yields this year.

A report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms an optimistic outlook after last year's drought yields, showing statewide forecasts put corn production at 169.5 million bushels, soybean production at 57.2 million bushels and burley tobacco at 157 million pounds.

Improved weather conditions mostly account for the optimistic forecasts. Farm Bureau insurance agent Ferenc Vegh said many of his customers filed loss claims last year because of record low rainfalls.

"It didn't rain all summer, he said.

This year, he has had no loss claims in Shelby County.

Soybean production forecasts for the 2009 harvest are up about 22 percent over last year to about 57.2 million bushels statewide. Shelby County harvested 20,600 acres of soybeans last year, at about 32 bushels per acre.

Yields statewide are estimated to average 6 more bushels per acre this year. Because of late plantings this year, crops are a bit behind, although crops productions will be good to excellent.

National soybean production has been put at record high 3.2 billion bushels for this year, up 8 percent from last year.

Kentucky burley tobacco was forecast to be 157 million pounds statewide, up 7 percent from last year.

In Shelby County, burley weighed about 2,245 pounds per acre, with about 2,320 acres grown in the county. If the projected 98,800 acres of burley are grown statewide, it will be the second-lowest tobacco acreage on record, behind only last year's production.

Corn production yields are up from 136 bushels per acre last year, statewide, to 150 bushels per acre. These amounts are averages of the 1.13 million acres grown statewide.

Shelby County harvested about 12,200 acres last year, with yields at about 125 bushels per acre, according to the National Agricultural Statistic Service. The wet spring delayed some corn planting; however, the condition of the corn crop statewide is mostly good to excellent.

Trumbo said he expects this year's corn crop to be one of his best years. He thinks Shelby County corn production will average about 170 bushels per acre. "We're hearing wonderful stories," he said of the local corn crop.