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April 01, 2008   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
April 01, 2008

MONTGOMERY, Ala.-- A year after it appeared corn would be Alabama's new crop of choice, soybeans have become the new king with the state's farmers, according to the March 1 Prospective Crops Planting report issued by the Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service.

In an interview with 1,050 Alabama farmers, the Alabama field office of the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service determined that farmers intend to plant 350,000 acres of soybeans this spring -- an 84 percent increase over last year and the most since 1997.

In comparison, Alabama farmers, hammered by rising fuel and fertilizer costs, are decreasing their corn acreage by 29 percent to 240,000 acres.

"In response to last year's drought, some farmers intended to increase crop acreage, which potentially will yield higher profits with less labor," said Bill Weaver, director of the Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service. "Improved weather conditions, rainfall and farm policies will provide an optimistic outlook for planting additional acreage."

Soybeans, a crop that costs less to produce than does corn, will increase nationwide, up 18 percent from 2007 with more than 630,000 acres planted. Nationwide, corn production is expected to decline by 8 percent.

Behind soybeans, the largest increase comes in winter wheat, which is up only 4 percent nationwide, but up by 67 percent in Alabama where an estimated 200,000 acres are nearing their May-June harvest, thanks largely to high prices and short supply.

Peanuts, up 16 percent nationwide, are up 13 percent in Alabama with 180,000 acres in production, largely due to the 2007 crop fetching its highest price in five years. Oats acreage is expected to rise by 10,000 acres, an 11 percent increase over last season. Sweet potatoes are also expected to increase, up 8 percent to 2,700 acres.

Cotton acreage, which was replaced with corn by many farmers last season, is expected to see another decline, falling 25 percent to 300,000 acres. Likewise, grain sorghum is expected to decline 17 percent to 10,000 acres, while hay production will see a 2 percent decline at 780,000.

The Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service will conduct another agriculture survey in June to determine the actual acreage planted for each crop.

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