A unique region
But Pennsylvania agriculture is much more than corn and soybeans.
Aside from being the fifth largest dairy-producing state, Pennsylvania produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. It has the largest mushroom industry in the U.S., and a significant poultry and livestock industry. No one could have predicted that last year would be such a prosperous year for apple growers in southeast and southcentral Pennsylvania, but favorable weather resulted in an abundant crop. The success of apple growers in the commonwealth was also based on the fact that weather caused major losses to apple producers in Michigan and New York.
This year’s weather forecast is strikingly similar to ones made at this time last year.
Expectations of a record corn crop and a rebuilding in livestock herds were quickly replaced by record-high corn, soybean and wheat prices and a liquidation of animals because of tight margins.
Despite an optimistic outlook from the USDA, weather forecasters have warned that farmers and ranchers in the Midwest and West should brace for another round of hot, dry weather this year. More than half of the United States remains in a drought.
Conditions have improved in the eastern corn belt states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois where most areas are no longer being hit by drought. The western corn belt, primarily Iowa, remains severely or extremely dry.