Prospective Planting: Southeast Corn Up, Peanuts Down, Cotton Steady

Southeast farmers say they will plant less peanuts and soybeans in 2016 with cotton acres remaining steady. They say they will plant more corn, however, and that sticks with the national trend of other U.S. corn farmers who plan to plant the third largest corn acreage in seven decades.

The Prospective Plantings report released March 31 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is the first best guess at what U.S. row crops farmers plan to do come planting season, which has already started in the Southeast. The report is based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of more than 84,000 farm operators across the United States.

“This report holds up in showing trends in what farmers intend to do. When looking at this report today, you can see growers in the Southeast are looking to minimize their revenue risk during what is still a depressed market situation, so they are using the programs available to help them do that. That would be making planting decisions based, at least in part, on where ARC and PLC are and also looking at crop insurance to cover their risk. But I think this report also shows a trend of trying to get back toward a more typical crop rotation in the region,” said Nathan Smith, Clemson University Extension economist based at the Sandhill Research and Education Center.

The report gives a snapshot of where growers’ minds were in early March. Right now, the Southeast is seeing, and is expected to keep seeing, above-normal rainfall for the spring planting season. This weather will affect actual, final planting decisions in the region and could impact yields, Smith added.

All cotton planted area for 2016 is expected to total 9.56 million acres, 11 percent up from last year. U.S. upland cotton growers say they will plant 9.35 million acres in 2016, which is about 11 percent more than last year.

But cotton acres in the Southeast look to stay about the same, or only slightly higher.

Georgia cotton growers intend to plant 1.15 million acres, or about 2 percent more than last year. Alabama growers are planning for 320,000 acres (2 percent more than in 2015) with Florida growers looking at 90,000 acres, or 6 percent more than in 2015.

But Tennessee growers are planning the largest increase in cotton acres in the Southeast with 235,000 acres, which if realized will be 52 percent more cotton acres than last year.

North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia growers plan to plant less cotton. North Carolina growers are looking at 290,000 acres, or 25 percent less cotton acres than last year. South Carolina growers are planning on 190,000 acres, or 20 percent less than last year, with Virginia at around 80,000 acres, only slightly less than last year.

U.S. peanut farmers say they will plant 1.48 million acres in 2016, which is 9 percent less than they planted in 2015.

Georgia planted 785,000 peanut acres last year. Georgia growers indicated they will drop peanut acreage in 2016 to 730,000 acres, which is about 55,000 less acres than they planted in 2015. Alabama peanut growers say they will plant 170,000 acres in 2016, 30,000 acres less than last year. Florida is pegged at 150,000 peanut acres for 2016, or 40,000 less acres than 2015.

From an economic point of view, “it’s a good thing for peanuts to be down because we needed to reduce peanut acres from a supply-demand standpoint to reduce the surplus the industry has. But it all will depend on what yields end up being as to how much we decrease the surplus. Yields can override an acreage shift when it comes to production. If you go by history, we likely will see another two-ton national average for peanuts like we’ve seen over the last four years in a row,” Smith said.

North Carolina peanut growers plan to plant 95,000 acres in 2016, which is 5,000 more acres than last year. South Carolina growers say they will plant 110,000 peanut acres in 2016, only about 2,000 less than in 2015. And Virginia growers plan to stay steady at 19,000 acres of peanuts in 2016.

Soybean acreage in the Southeast will follow the national trend and be pretty much less across the region in 2016.

North Carolina growers plan to lead the region in soybean acres with about 1.7 million acres, or 7 percent less than in 2015. Kentucky growers plan to plant 1.65 million acres, or 10 percent less than in 2015.

Virginia plans for 630,000 acres, or the same as last year.

Alabama growers look to plant 470,000 acres of soybeans, or 30,000 less acres than in 2015. South Carolina growers look to plant 440,000 soybeans acres in 2016, or 35,000 less acres than in 2015. Georgia growers say they will plant 320,000 soybean acres in 2016, or 5,000 less acres than 2015.

Corn acres will be up across the board in the Southeast, according to the report.

Kentucky farmers say they will plant 1.5 million acres in 2016, 7 percent more than in 2015. North Carolina growers plan to plant 930,000 corn acres in 2016, 18 percent more than in 2015. Georgia growers look to plant 390,000 acres, or 18 percent more than in 2015. Alabama plans on 340,000 acres, or 30 percent more than in 2015.Tennesee growers say they will plant 840,000 acres of corn, or 8 percent more than in 2015.

The national view
U.S. corn growers say they will plant 93.6 million acres this year, according to USDA report. This will be the first increase in planted corn acreage since 2012 and, if realized, will be the third largest corn acreage since 1944. Corn growers in 41 of the 48 contiguous states expect to either maintain or increase the number of acres they plant to corn, with the expectations of higher corn returns in 2016 compared with other crops.

Growers in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and North Dakota expect to increase their corn acreage by 400,000 or more acres in 2016.

Assuming the five-year average 91.3 percent harvest rate and the projected 25-year trend yield of 165.4 bushels per acre is achieved, farmers will harvest 14.13 billion bushels in 2016, nearing the production record of 14.2 billion bushels set in 2014, according to the National Corn Growers Association.

“U.S. farmers produced an abundant crop in 2015. Given the strong carryover entering this growing season, we may see quite a large corn supply at harvest should weather prove favorable in 2016,” National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling said.  “While many factors may change the reality on the ground as planting progresses, American corn supplies should remain ample for the year to come. Given the impact this continues to have on prices, the work being done at NCGA to grow demand will prove even more important as we work to find markets for our product and remain profitable into the future.”

U.S. soybean growers expect to reverse the recent trends, which saw several record-high years. In 2016, growers expect to plant 82.2 million acres to soybeans, a less than one percent decrease from 2015. In Louisiana, Minnesota, and Mississippi, growers expect to decrease their soybean acreage by 200,000 acres or more in 2016. Despite the overall decrease in acreage, growers in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin expect to see record-high soybean acreages in their states, according to the report.

 Other key findings in the report are:

  • All wheat planted area for 2016 is estimated at 49.6 million acres, down 9 percent from 2015.
  • Winter wheat planted area, at 36.2 million acres, down 8 percent from last year.
  • Sorghum growers intend to plant 7.22 million acres in 2016, down 15 percent from 2015. Kansas and Texas, the leading sorghum-producing states, account for 74 percent of the expected United States acreage.

Source: Brad Haire, Southeast Farm Press

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