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March 31, 2009   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
March 31, 2009

Alabama's soybean acreage is projected to increase in 2009 as farmers seek crops with lower input costs.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama farmers looking for a low-cost crop in the midst of a major economic downturn will be turning to soybeans, according to the Prospective Plantings Report issued today by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

According to the survey of about 86,000 farmers nationwide during the first two weeks of March, Alabama will follow a national trend by planting 400,000 acres in soybeans -- up 11 percent from 2008's 360,000 acres. That's pretty much in line with the national forecast that predicts 76 million acres of beans, which would be the largest harvest on record if realized. Tightening soybean supplies and lower input costs than corn are driving those planting decisions.

The report also says higher input costs will drive corn acreage down 1 percent nationally to 85 million acres. That would be the second consecutive year-over-year decrease since 2007 but still would be the third-largest acreage since 1949 behind '07 and '08. In Alabama, corn acreage is expected to remain for the second straight year at about 260,000 acres.

The peanut industry, which saw record production in 2008, was hit hard by the salmonella outbreak in Blakely, Ga., and will see the largest loss of all Alabama crops -- down 25,000 acres (13 percent) to 170,000. Even so, that's less than half of a 27 percent decline nationally to 1.12 million acres.

Alabama's cotton crop is expected to fall by three percent (10,000 acres) to 280,000 acres. With potash and other cotton input expenses remaining high, the decrease was not unexpected. Nationally, cotton was projected to decline 7 percent from last year to 8.81 million acres -- the lowest since 1983.

An unexpected decline was forecast for another Alabama crop, red winter wheat. The state's wheat crop, which is generally planted behind corn or soybean harvests, is projected to fall 10,000 acres (4 percent) to 230,000. Nationally, wheat is expected to fall 7 percent below last year to 42.9 million acres.

Alabama's hay and oat crops are expected to remain unchanged at 900,000 and 50,000 acres respectively. But another state specialty -- the sweet potato -- is projected to increase 4 percent to 2,700 acres.

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