March 30, 2018
By Debra Davis
Federation Wheat & Feed Grain, Cotton and Soybean Divisions Director Carla Hornady visited with Talladega County farmer Jeremy Wilson about his 2017 corn crop last summer.
Record yields for state soybean and corn farmers in 2017, combined with higher yields for cotton and peanuts, increased the value of Alabama crops by nearly $100 million over 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Alabama’s 11-percent increase in crop values bucks a national trend, where American farmers typically saw a slight decrease in the value of last year’s crops. Alabama’s crop value increased for soybeans, corn, cotton, hay and peanuts in 2017, while winter wheat and cottonseed experienced slight declines.
“The increase is good news for Alabama farmers, but it’s important to remember production costs for farmers also rose,” said the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Carla Hornady. “Farmers experienced lower prices for their crops in 2017, so they needed increased yields to overcome higher costs for seed, fertilizer, equipment and labor.”
Hornady is the Federation’s Soybean, Cotton and Wheat & Feed Grain divisions director. She said farmers invest in research with checkoff dollars to help produce higher yields and control costs.
A record-high yield of 46 bushels per acre for Alabama soybeans increased production by 21 percent in 2017, raising the crop’s value by nearly $26.5 million — from $129 million in 2016 to $155.5 million last year.
Record-high yields of 167 bushels per acre for Alabama corn in 2017 totaled 39.2 million bushels of the crop, up 4 percent over the previous year. Likewise, the crop’s value jumped $20 million, from $137 million in 2016 to nearly $157 million last year.
Alabama farmers planted 435,000 acres of cotton last year, about 90,000 more than 2016. Production jumped by 810,000 bales, up 15 percent from 2016. The value of the state’s cotton crop increased as well, from nearly $241 million in 2016 to $266 million last year.
Farmers harvested 704 million pounds of Alabama peanuts last year, up 14 percent from 2016. That increased the crop’s value by nearly $34 million — from about $122 million in 2016 to $156 million in 2017.
Hay production also contributed to the Alabama’s increased crops value. Hay values jumped by nearly $21 million from $187 million in 2016 to $208 million last year.
In addition to favorable weather for much of the state last year, on-farm investments like irrigation, improved seed varieties, new planting practices and soil analysis helped farmers increase their income, Hornady said.
For more information about Alabama crops, visit USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.