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Cultivator — April 10, 2015

Farmers To Plant More Peanuts, Soybeans

Brothers Levi, left, and Dan Gaines farm with their father, Harold, in Autauga County. This year, they will plant peanuts, cotton and grain sorghum. For the first time in three years, the Gaines family will not plant soybeans, a contrast to increased soybean acreage expected in Alabama.

Alabama farmers plan to grow more soybeans and peanuts in 2015, while cotton and corn acreage is expected to decrease. The projected acreage was included in the National Agricultural Statistics Service Prospective Plantings Report, released March 31.

The changes are due to regular field rotations and relatively low commodity prices for most crops.

“Farmers are searching for a crop that they can pencil a profit on, and it’s a real struggle to find that,” said Autauga County farmer Harold Gaines. “For the first time in a long time, we’re going to plant grain sorghum. There seems to be a growing market for that.”

Gaines said peanuts and cotton remain mainstays of his crop rotation. In contrast to the state trend, Gaines said he will not plant soybeans this year.

In Escambia County, farmer David Womack is swapping corn for more cotton and peanut acreage.

“Because of our rotation, our irrigated land will be peanuts, so we won’t have any corn this year; we only grow corn if we have space under irrigation,” Womack said. “Our cotton acreage will actually be up, and we’ll have milo. I think commodity prices will make this a tough year.”

Statewide, corn is expected to decrease 10 percent to 270,000 acres, while cotton is expected to decrease 14 percent to 300,000 acres.

In place of corn and cotton, Alabama farmers intend to grow 185,000 acres of peanuts, a 6 percent increase over 2014, and 490,000 acres of soybeans, a 1 percent increase.

Nationally, the report showed an expected 1 percent increase in soybean acres and a 9 percent increase in peanut acres. U.S. corn and cotton acreage is expected to decrease 2 and 13 percent, respectively.

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