Lower Southeast plants big corn acreage

Where there’s a will, there’s a way and growers in the lower Southeast found the will this year to plant a very large corn crop, despite a drought of historic proportions.

Lingering drought conditions delayed planting in some areas of the region and have decimated the dryland corn crop in others.

In Georgia, the June 29 USDA crop report shows that farmers planted less peanuts and cotton and more tobacco this year compared with 2006. Based on a survey conducted during the first two weeks of June, growers in the state indicated they had increased corn acreage by 89 percent over last year.

The survey also revealed that soybean acreage would be up significantly from last year while hay acreage would decrease from 2006.

Since late last year, rainfall has been well below normal in much of the lower Southeast, and most of Georgia, Alabama and north Florida are in an extreme drought.

After freezing conditions during the first part of April, temperatures have been slightly above normal in most of the region.

Georgia cotton producers planted an estimated 1.05 million acres of cotton in 2007, down 100,000 acres from the March report and 350,000 acres less than in 2006. Planting the crop got off to a very slow start, due to the extreme dry conditions. Planting progress was behind normal the entire planting season until virtually complete by the middle of June. Georgia’s acreage in 2007 is still the second largest in the nation behind Texas.

Peanuts planted in 2007 in Georgia total 520,000 acres, up 20,000 acres from the March report, but 60,000 acres less than in 2006. Acreage for harvest is expected to total 515,000 acres.

Planting got off to a very slow start, due to drought conditions. The majority of peanut planting took place in May and was virtually complete by mid-June.

Corn planted in Georgia totaled 530,000 acres in 2007, 30,000 acres more than what was anticipated in March and 250,000 acres more than in 2006.

Planting was off to a fast start. By the end of March, more than half of the crop had been planted and virtually the entire crop was planted by the end of April. The early June survey indicated 480,000 acres to be harvested for grain, 255,000 acres more than in 2006.

Georgia’s soybean acreage for 2007 is expected to increase to 220,000 acres, 65,000 acres more than in 2006. This June estimate is a decrease of 30,000 acres from the March report.

As of June 25, 81 percent of the crop had been planted, about a week behind normal. Soybeans were rated in fair to good condition. Harvested acreage is expected to total 205,000 acres, 65,000 acres above 2006.

Georgia tobacco growers have increased their acreage from last year. Acreage for 2007 is 20,000 acres, 18 percent more than in 2006 and 1,000 acres more than the March report. Transplanting got under way about the third week of March, which is a normal starting time. By the end of June, harvest was just getting underway, and the crop was rated in fair to good condition.

Sorghum planted for all purposes in Georgia in 2007 is expected to total 55,000 acres, 15,000 more acres than was intended in March and 15,000 acres more than was planted in 2006. Sorghum to be harvested for grain is expected to total 30,000 acres, 4,000 more than last year.

Hay acreage to be harvested in 2007 totals 600,000 acres, 50,000 acres less than last year. Harvesting hay has been at a minimum, as drought conditions have caused slow growth in hay fields.

Wheat seeding for 2007 totaled 400,000 acres, up 170,000 acres from 2006. Wheat harvested for grain is estimated at 250,000 acres which is up 130,000 acres from last year.

Meanwhile, severe drought conditions continued to prevail across Alabama, with Baldwin and Mobile being the only counties that are abnormally to moderately dry.

Planted area for the four major crops — corn, cotton, peanuts, and soybeans — totaled 1,030,000 acres, 70,000 acres below 2006 and the intentions set March 2007.

Alabama peanut acres are set at 150,000 acres, a 15,000-acre decrease from 2006. Dry weather conditions caused many producers to plant late or not at all.

Corn planted acres are estimated at 300,000, up 100,000 from 2006. Dry weather caused the non-irrigated corn crop to deteriorate resulting in farmers abandoning entire fields in some parts of the state.

Alabama’s cotton acres, at 400,000 decreased 175,000 from 2006 due to low prices and ethanol interest which caused acreage shifting to corn and soybeans.

Soybeans increased 20,000 acres from last year’s crop bringing the planted acres to 180,000. Significant rains are needed to fill soybean pods and continue growth development. Soybeans planted are 91 percent complete.

Alabama’s wheat crop has been harvested and yields were better than expected after experiencing the damage from the Easter weekend freeze.

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