December prices received by North Carolina producers enforces the popular belief that cotton and peanut acreage will be down significantly and grain crop acreage will be up significantly for the 2013 season.

Year-ending prices for cotton stood at 69 cents a pound and 35 cents a pound for peanuts.

A small bump in cotton prices could stabilize the loss of cotton acreage, but significant price improvement will have to occur in the next 2-3 months to stall a big decrease in peanut acres.

North Carolina cotton growers are well on their way to having a banner year in terms of cotton yield and quality. As of mid-December yields were running high at 977 pounds per acres, compared to a final total of 616 pounds per acre last year.

Corn prices held stable at $7.65 per bushel. At 95 percent of corn prices, North Carolina’s hottest row crop, grain sorghum, held a value of $6.89 a bushel. Some expect the state’s grain sorghum acreage to top 100,000 acres in 2013.

Based on Murphy-Brown’s ongoing commitment to pay growers 95 percent the value of corn, some experts contend sorghum acreage could double from last year’s 70,000 acres in North Carolina.

With Murphy-Brown buying sorghum in southeast Virginia and northern South Carolina, expectations are that acreage will go up significantly in those states as well.

Soybean prices dropped from a high of near $17 per bushel, but remained strong in North Carolina at $14 per bushel. A big push among soybean experts in the Upper Southeast to provide management strategies that will help growers produce higher yields of soybeans will likely help boost acreage in 2013.

Wheat prices, on one of the biggest wheat crops in the Carolinas and Virginia in the past several years, remained excellent at $8.50 in the mid-December report by the USDA’s North Carolina Field Office.

The wheat crop would have been even better except for a number of production problems related to the second warmest winter on record in the state and to a mid-April freeze that compounded the problem.

With wheat and soybean prices remaining strong, expectations are that wheat-bean double-crop acres will continue to rise across the region.

While most reports call for 975,000 acres or so in North Carolina, Dan Weathington, executive director of the North Carolina Grain Growers Association contends the state could top a million acres of wheat planted in 2012.

rroberson@farmpress.com