Costs Impacting Planting Decisions
AUBURN, March 6---The
high cost of nitrogen fertilizers combined with some low commodity
prices is forcing some Alabama farmers to alter their planting
strategies. Dr. Bob Goodman, an agricultural economist with the
Alabama Cooperative Extension System, says farmers will probably
plant more acres of cotton this year in Alabama. National cotton
acreage is expected to climb more than a million acres, and Alabama
will probably follow the trend.
expect we will see more than 600,000 acres planted in cotton this
year," says Goodman. "The high cost of nitrogen fertilizer
will discourage some farmers from planting as much corn and the low
price for soybeans will discourage others from planting as many
acres of soybeans as they did last year."
Goodman says cotton
acreage could increase as much as 5 percent — jumping from 590,000
acres planted in 2000 to as much as 615,000 acres this year. That
would be the most cotton planted in Alabama since the early 1960s
when as much as 800,000 acres were devoted to the crop.
"Corn needs a lot
of nitrogen fertilizer and with the high costs, I expect corn acres
could drop by as much as 50,000 acres to about 180,000 acres
statewide," says Goodman.
He adds soybean acreage
could drop to as few as 160,000 acres.
But Goodman points out
that while farmers will be planting corn this month, planting time
for cotton in Alabama is more than a month away. Changes both in
fertilizer costs and the commodity market could impact total cotton
prices moderate in the coming weeks, some people may decide to plant
as much corn as last year," says Goodman. "Or if bean
prices improve, others may not abandon soybeans for cotton. Nothing
is really firm yet."
The severe drought last
summer took a heavy toll on the state's row-crop production.
Producers harvested only 540,000 bales of cotton — the lowest
number of bales since 1995. Yields were also way down for corn,
peanuts and soybeans.
SOURCE: Dr. Bob Goodman
Extension AgriculturalEconomist, Alabama Cooperative Extension
System, (334) 844-5633