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Corn has gone wild in Pulaski

By Orlando Salinas, osalinas@wdbj7.com
Published On: Aug 16 2013 10:48:26 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 16 2013 10:48:50 PM EDT

All this rain over the past few months has been hard on many crops, but maybe not corn.

PULASKI, Va. -

So much rain over the past few months has been hard on lots of crops, but maybe not corn.

We found corn "gone wild" in Pulaski County. It only took a second for Austin, Brooke and Madison Flor to get lost in a fast growing cornfield just off Lee Highway in Pulaski County.

We put a small, handheld camera on Madison, as she ran through corn stalks nearly three times as tall as she is. Her grandpa, Donald Couch, says there's been so much rain over the past several weeks, that his backyard corn is growing super fast and almost out of control.

"[The corn] is so shallow-rooted," said Couch, "keeping that surface soil moist is what's going to make it germinate real fast and it did. It germinated like in three days. It was screaming out of the ground."

Couch isn't kidding. The Virginia Department of Agriculture says corn yields are up 30 percent this year, over last. Couch says he planted his first-ever crop of corn only in mid June.

"I measured that when I talked to you on the phone and it's 10 feet-and six inches," Couch said.  CLICK HERE to see more pictures.

I asked Couch if he knew that the rain and corn loved each other that much?

''I knew it was good," he said, standing next to his half acre crop. "I was thankful for it, but when it came screaming out of the ground in three days, I was overwhelmed."

This corn is king, just ask 11-year-old Austin, who grabbed a stalk of corn and started chomping down. His sisters, Madison and Brooke, took turns too. While the corn's been growing like weeds, Couch says his other crops -- squash, tomatoes and zucchini -- have suffered with so much rain.

Couch, who sports a stringy salt and pepper beard, told me strangers have seen his super tall corn and asked a few questions of their own.

"I did have a couple stop by and wonder, if I was a moonshiner [because all] the corn and my beard," he said.

Silver queen and popcorn, that's what Donald and his grand kids planted. Couch says they just sort of tossed it in the backyard and it took off, and now it's just about time to harvest.

"This stuff just came screaming out of the ground," he said.

Here is a news release from the Virginia Department of Agriculture about this year's corn crop:

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced today that Virginia’s corn yields are expected to be 145 bushels per acre, up 42 bushels per acre from last year. Production is estimated at 46.4 million bushels, up 29 percent from 2012. Harvested acres are estimated at 320,000.

Soybean producers currently expect to harvest 600,000 acres with an average yield of 42 bushels per acre, no change from last year’s yield. If realized, this will tie last year’s record average yield. Production is expected to total 25.2 million bushels, up 3 percent from last year.

Cotton yield is forecast to average 1,050 pounds per acre, down 68 pounds from last year’s 1,118 pounds per acre. If realized, production would be 151,000 bales, down 24 percent from last year. Producers expect to harvest 69,000 acres in 2013, down 19 percent from last year.

Peanut producers expect to harvest 14,000 acres, a 6,000 acre decrease from the previous year. Yield is forecast at 3,500 pounds per acre, down 700 pounds from last year. Resulting production will be 49.0 million pounds, down 42 percent from 2012’s production.

Flue tobacco producers currently expect yields to average 2,300 pounds, down 100 pounds from 2012. Production will total 52.9 million pounds from 23,000 acres.

Burley tobacco yields are expected to average 1,800 pounds, up 50 pounds from last year. Production is expected to total 3.06 million pounds, down 35 percent from 2012. Producers expect to harvest 1,700 acres, down 1,000 acres from the previous year.

Fire-cured tobacco yields are expected to average 2,000 pounds per acre, down 300 pounds from 2012. Production is expected to total 800,000 pounds, down 8 percent from 2012. Producers expect to harvest 400 acres in 2013, up 5 percent from last year.

Hay producers expect to harvest 90,000 acres of alfalfa hay with an average yield of 3.20 tons per acre. Production is expected to total 288,000 tons, down 17 percent from 2012. There are 1.20 million acres of other hay expected to be harvested in Virginia. The yield for other hay is expected to average 2.50 tons per acre. Production is expected to total 3.00 million tons, up 12 percent from 2012.

Winter wheat yield is forecast at 64 bushels per acre compared with 65 bushels per acre a year earlier. Production is expected to total 18.6 million bushels which is up 19 percent from the previous year. Harvested acreage is 290,000 acres, up 50,000 from 2012.

Barley yields averaged 78 bushels per acre, down 4 bushels per acre from last year. The resulting production will total 3.43 million bushels. Barley producers harvested 44,000 acres, which was up 7,000 acres from last year.