- Two factors will likely determine how much grain is planted in the Carolinas and Virginia: cotton and good memory.
- Cotton prices continue to climb and too many farmers remember the disaster of the 2011 grain crop.
Winter flooding and a devastating tsunami have virtually eliminated Australia’s hard winter wheat crop and production is down in Argentina and parts of the former Soviet Union.
In the U.S., Pottorf says corn acreage is projected to be up by 3 million acres. Soybeans are projected to add an additional million acres. Wheat acres are already high and could go significantly higher for fall 2011 plantings, depending on how the battle for corn and soybean acres ends up and whether the strong demand for wheat continues.
From California to Virginia, King Cotton is projected to return with power in 2011. Pottorf says his company has pegged production in 2011 at 12.8 million acres. Other forecasters contend acreage may even top 13 million acres.
Even at 80-90 cents a pound, it’s hard to figure a way that any other crop can compete in most of the cotton-producing states, Pottorf says. Demand for cotton clothes is high and there is no reason to believe the current high prices for cotton will go away anytime soon, he adds.
For grain crops, he says, despite the heat and drought-related problems in the Southeast, seed supply for soybeans and corn is good. If wheat acreage continues to climb this fall, there may be some reason for concern, but there is no indication of a shortage of seed in any of these crops, the Minnesota-based economist says.
Prices for seed are going to be higher in 2011 than they were in 2010. “We don’t see any indication seed prices are going to go down as we move closer to planting time. And, while some varieties in great demand may go up some in price, there is no strong indication that seed prices overall will not go much higher between now and planting time” he says
Whether or not any of the new drought tolerant corn seed will be available in the Southeast for the 2011 season is unclear. For sure there will be a limited supply available in the Midwest.
For growers with no irrigation or limited irrigation water, buying drought tolerant seed makes sense, but there are no indications that these or other seed prices will go up significantly between now (early February) and planting time. Growers will have some time to figure out exactly how many acres of which crop to plant and make seed purchases once the planning process is complete, Pottorf adds.
Like seed prices, fertilizer prices have increased significantly since last summer. For spring of 2011 there should be a good supply for farmers. Though he doesn’t forecast fertilizer prices, Pottorf says, from all the information he has seen, prices aren’t likely to go down, at least throughout the spring planting season.
With cotton prices so high, Southeastern growers aren’t likely to plant more corn or soybeans in 2011, so acreage should remain fairly close to last year. Unlike in the Midwest, where more corn will be grown, demand for fertilizer in the Southeast should remain fairly close to 2010 use.