"FARMERS TO PLANT MORE CORN AND BEANS, LESS COTTON"
"Montgomery, Ala." Alabama farmers are planting more corn and soybeans this year and fewer acres of cotton, according to the latest report from the Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service. The agency, which surveys producers throughout the state, said soybean acreage is expected to be up 21 percent while corn plantings will increase 8 percent. Cotton acreage is projected to be down 2 percent.
Buddy Adamson, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation's cotton and wheat and feed grains divisions, said higher production costs and lower prices contributed to the acreage shift.
"Extremely low cotton prices coupled with that crop's high production costs are causing many Alabama farmers to rethink their options," Adamson said. "You can grow corn or soybeans for about half of what you can grow cotton, so some farmers have decided to reduce their risk by planting these lower-cost crops."
The Statistics Service report showed that Alabama farmers intend to plant 195,000 acres of corn, up from 180,000 acres last year. Soybean acreage is expected to rebound to 170,000 acres after falling to 140,000 acres in 2001. Meanwhile, the Statistics Service predicts cotton farmers will plant 600,000 acres, down from 610,000 acres last year. Peanut acreage also is expected to be down 10,000 acres, to 190,000 acres.
Although the report was based on the latest data available from farmer surveys, State Statistician Herb Vanderberry said actual planted acreage could change, if Congress passes a new farm bill this spring.
"Effects of weather during the planting season, availability and cost of production inputs, market prices and the pending farm bill are all factors in determining which crops and how much acreage Alabama farmers will actually plant," he said. Vanderberry said the agency will conduct another survey around June 1 to determine the acreage actually planted.
Nationally, farmers intend to plant 14.7 million acres of cotton, down 6 percent from last year. Corn acreage is expected to top 79 million acres, up 4 percent, while soybean plantings are projected to total 73 million acres, down 2 percent. The report shows peanut acreage at 1.5 million acres, down 5 percent.
Alabama winter wheat plantings were down 12 percent to 150,000 acres while grain sorghum held firm at 12,000 acres.
For more information about 2002 prospective plantings, visit the Alabama Statistics Service website at www.aces.edu/department/nass/.