From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
Each year, our Statistics Division compiles information on what farmers intend to plant for the coming year. This year’s results indicate a significant boost in cotton production, a double-digit increase in peanut production and a small increase in sweet potato plantings. On the down side, wheat, soybeans and tobacco production are expected to drop this year.
Based on the information gathered, growers plan to plant 540,000 acres of cotton, up 44 percent over 2009. This marks a big comeback after a three-year decline in production.
Peanut acreage is expected to be up 19 percent above last year with 80,000 acres planted.
North Carolina leads the coun-try in sweet potato production, and I don’t think that will change based on planting intentions. Sweet potato production is expected to jump 6 percent above 2009 numbers, making it the largest production year since 1950. A total of 50,000 acres of sweet potatoes are expected to be grown this year.
Wheat production seems to be taking the biggest hit in 2010, down 21 percent from 2009 at 550,000 acres. Soybean plantings are projected to drop by 8 percent, while tobacco is expected to be down 6 percent based on the tobacco companies’ purchasing contracts. Soybean acreage is projected to be 1.65 million acres, with tobacco acreage at 167,000.
Corn production is expected to remain the same as last year at 870,000 acres.
We regularly experience this up and down in commodity production and prices, as farmers look to boost profitability. For example, many farmers moved away from cotton production as corn and soybean prices rose in the past few years. Crop rotation also figures into the decision making. Rotating crops helps the soil, and coupled with better cotton prices, many farmers appear to be rotating from soybeans to cotton production this year.
Whatever crop farmers are planting, I am hopeful for a great growing season, with ample rain to carry farmers through.
You can find this report at www.ncagr.gov/stats/release/CropRelease03.pdf.