Historic flooding in America’s Corn Belt and international trade negotiations are altering planting intentions of some Alabama farmers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its annual prospective planting report March 29 when many farms from the Dakotas to Missouri were still under water. The floods came just before planting season started in the Midwest and are expected to reduce corn, wheat and soybean acreage.
“I expect none of those flooded acres were considered in USDA’s report,” said Macon County Farmers Federation President Shep Morris. “That would make a significant difference of what could be planted there.”
USDA predicts U.S. farmers will plant 92.8 million acres of corn, a 4% increase over last year. In Alabama, the report predicts farmers will plant 280,000 acres of corn — 20,000 acres more than 2018.
Whether it’s global markets or poor domestic demand, USDA’s report says soybeans will dip to 84.6 million acres, down 5% from last year. The expected drop in Alabama soybean acres exceeds national predictions. USDA estimates 280,000 acres will be planted — down 65,000 acres from last year, a 19% drop.
Cotton should remain Alabama’s largest row crop, with about 510,000 acres — about the same as last year. U.S. cotton acreage is predicted to rise 2% to 13.8 million acres.
Alabama peanut farmers are expected to plant 170,000 acres, a 3% jump from 2018. U.S. peanut acreage is expected to rise 2%, topping out at 1.4 million acres.
While Alabama isn’t a major player in the U.S. wheat market, planting last fall is up 6% from the previous year, and farmers are expected to harvest 170,000 acres. However, U.S. wheat acreage is predicted to be down 4%. The 45.8 million acres represents the lowest wheat acreage since records began in 1919.