April 14, 2017
Following a national trend, Alabama soybean acreage is expected to outpace other row crops in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Prospective Planting report.
Alabama farmers are predicted to plant 450,000 acres of soybeans this year, a 7 percent increase over last year’s 420,000 acres.
Cotton acreage is expected to rise 25 percent from 345,000 acres last year to 430,000 this planting season.
The report predicts a 9 percent increase in peanut acreage — 190,000 this year versus 175,000 acres last year.
Corn acreage should decline this year, according to the report. USDA reported 330,000 acres in Alabama in 2016. A 27 percent drop is expected, landing acreage at 240,000 acres.
This year, hay is expected to be 800,000 acres, a slight fall from 810,000 acres in 2016.
Last fall’s drought, coupled with low commodity prices, may be driving farmers toward cotton and peanuts and away from corn, said the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Carla Hornady.
“The drought last fall sharply reduced Alabama’s winter wheat and oats acreage,” said Hornady, the Federation’s Cotton, Soybean and Wheat & Feed Grains divisions director. “Profit potential for cotton and peanuts is thought to be better this year, and many farmers believe improved cotton varieties did well despite last year’s dry, scorching summer and fall.”
While USDA’s report is based on the most accurate available data, Hornady said weather could still influence farmers’ decisions up until the crop is in the ground.
The Prospective Planting report was published March 31.