From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
With the U.S. Department of Agriculture's release of the 2012 Prospective Plantings Report for North Carolina, we gained some insight into what farmers will likely plant this year. And like most years, some crop acres will increase, while others will decrease.
On the increasing side, peanuts are expected to be up about 22 percent this year from 2011, with farmers indicating they will plant 100,000 acres. That would be the most peanut acreage in our state since 2008.
Wheat, which was planted in the fall and winter, is also up significantly. A total of 830,000 acres of wheat was planted, a 19-percent increase.
Corn and soybean acreage also looks to be up. If projections hold true, we could be looking at 900,000 acres of corn, up 3 percent from 2011. Soybean acreage could top out at 1.43 million acres, up 4 percent.
I am sure corn producers are not looking for a repeat of 2011, which was particularly harsh to growers. Dry conditions coupled with Hurricane Irene produced yields that were 25 bushels per acre below the 10-year average.
Sweet potato farmers are also indicating they will grow 3 percent more acres in 2012.
Cotton and flue-cured tobacco are expected to see drops in acreage. No doubt, high cotton prices were behind the 800,000 acres grown in 2011. This year, that number is expected to drop down to 700,000, a 13-percent dip.
We also expected to see a 10,000-acre drop in flue-cured tobacco. That will put production at 150,000 acres.
Planting reports such as this one are important as farmers consider what crops they want to grow for the coming season. I am hopeful that we will see a good growing season, and most especially, a season without too much hurricane activity.
As a reminder, I would like to encourage you to attend the Got to Be NC Festival May 18-20 in Raleigh. We've got plenty of fun activities for you and your family. Join us for a great day celebrating N.C. agriculture.