Georgia farmers are planning an increase this year in their plantings of corn, soybeans and wheat, according to the first planting intentions report from the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service. The only crops showing a decrease in acreage from 2001 are peanuts and oats.

Farmers intend to reduce peanut acreage by 3 percent from the 2001 level, while cotton and hay acreages are expected to remain unchanged from one year ago.

“Final planting decisions will depend on the pending farm bill, weather conditions, financing, commodity prices and even reactions to this first planting intentions report,” says Dave Abbe, state statistician.

Overall, the winter months in Georgia have been warmer and drier than normal this year, he adds.

Georgia's cotton acreage is expected to be 1.5 million acres, the same as in 2001 and 2000. Growers have expressed the view that cotton is one of the better alternatives, even considering the current supply and demand difficulties. Farmers hope usage will increase as the Asian economies regain strength.

U.S. cotton plantings for 2002 are expected to total 14.8 million acres or 6 percent below last year. Producers from all upland cotton-producing states except for Kansas, Georgia and Missouri intend to decrease acreage from 2001.

Peanut producers in Georgia plan to decrease their planting by about 3 percent in 2002, as the uncertainty of the farm bill remains a concern for growers. If these early projections prove accurate, peanut acreage will total 500,000 acres or 15,000 acres below last year.

U.S. peanut producers intend to plant 1.47 million acres of peanuts in 2002, down 5 percent from one year ago. Of the nine producing states, six intend to plant fewer acres in 2002 and three intend to show no change.

Southeast growers — Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina — intend to plant 791,000 acres, down 3 percent from 2001. In the Virginia-North Carolina region, producers intend to plant 196,000 acres, down 1 percent from 2001. Growers in the Southwest, including New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, intend to plant 478,000 acres or 9 percent less than in 2001.

Corn planting for 2002 is expected to total 330,000 acres, according to growers' plans in March. This would be a significant increase of 25 percent from last year. Some corn plantings in the southern part of Georgia have been replanted due to cold weather.

U.S. corn growers intend to plant 79 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2002, up 4 percent from 2001, but down 1 percent from 2000. Expected acreage is up in many areas of the United States and in virtually all areas of the Corn Belt. Farmers intend to plant fewer corn acres than last year in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado due to concerns over dry weather conditions.

Soybean acreage for 2002 is expected to increase to 200,000 acres. This is 35,000 acres or 21 percent more than in 2001. Provided these early plans materialize, soybean planting in Georgia will be the third lowest since 1964. The lowest plantings since 1964 occurred last year.

Soybean producers throughout the United States intend to plant 73 million acres in 2002, down 2 percent from last year. Reduced soybean acreage was offset by an expected increase in corn plantings in most areas.

Tobacco growers are planning a slight increase in acreage from last year. Acreage for 2002 is expected to total 28,000 acres, compared with 26,500 acres in 2001. Transplanting was getting under way in late March.

U.S. tobacco for harvest in 2002 is forecast at 429,410 acres, down 1 percent from the 2001 crop and 9 percent below the 2000 level. If realized, this would be the lowest harvested acreage since 1874.

Sorghum planting for 2002 is expected to total 55,000 acres or 5,000 acres more than in 2001. Growers continue to look at grain sorghum as a drought-tolerant crop.

The 2002 U.S. intended sorghum acreage planted for all purposes is estimated at 9.02 million acres, down 12 percent from last year and, if realized, the lowest plantings since 1929. Most of the acreage declines are expected by growers in the Central and Southern Plains states.

Wheat seeding for 2002 totaled 350,000 acres, up 50,000 acres from 2001 and 2000. The drier-than-normal winter allowed growers to plant their original intentions.

The U.S. wheat crop is expected to total 59 million acres in 2002, down 1 percent from 2001 and the lowest level since 1972.

Oats planted in Georgia totaled 80,000 acres for 2002, down 20 percent from the 100,000 acres planted in 2001. Oat acreage remains strong as growers look for alternatives to the higher costs of other small grains. Oats expected to be harvested for grain totaled 30,000 acres, down 14 percent from 2001.

U.S. acres seeded for oats and to be seeded for the 2002 crop year is expected to total 5.13 million acres - up 16 percent or 726,000 acres over last year's final planted acres.

Hay acreage expected to be harvested in Georgia for 2002 is forecast at 650,000 acres - identical to the acreage in 2001 and 2000. All U.S. hay producers expect to harvest 63.7 million acres in 2002, up less than 1 percent from 2001.