Major extensively grown cash crops in Virginia include tobacco, soybeans, corn, cotton, wheat and barley. Forages (hay, pasture, and silage) are the primary feed stuffs for dairy, beef, sheep, horses, and goats. Forage quality and quantity can have major impacts on feed costs and livestock profitability.
Production of the above crops integrates agronomic, environmental, and economic sciences. Specific production practices, such as fertilization and crop protection inputs, must be integrated into a program for each crop and for total cropping systems. Current emphasis addresses impacts of crop production on water quality. Most crops are currently produced using no tillage planting, which greatly reduces erosion and potential nutrient loss from the field.
Competitiveness of crop production is affected by many factors. Improving markets by producing value added products is becoming a major objective of crops programs. These include evaluation of hulless barley, bread wheat varieties, low linolenic and low palmitic acid soybeans, Natto soybeans, white corn, and possibly tobacco for pharmacological purposes. Management and marketing alternatives will be developed in cooperation with industry and implemented through on-farm demonstrations, area conferences, state-wide conferences, field days, fact sheets, and publications.