Cotton, wheat and tobacco will also see cuts, while corn and soybean acres are expected to go up, according to the North Carolina Agricultural Statistics Division.

Peanut acres have declined sharply due to changes in the peanut program last year. In the Virginia-Carolina region, plantings are down 21 percent from 2002. In Virginia, peanut farmers will plant 35,000 acres, 40 percent lower than in 2002.

Corn plantings are expected to increase to 810,000 this season, a 3 percent increase from last year. This would be the most corn planted in the state since 1998. Heavy rains have prevented early spring plantings, however.

Soybean acreage is also expected to jump to 1.4 million acres, an increase of 40,000 acres over last year.

North Carolina cotton producers intend to plant about 900,000 acres or 4 percent less than 2002. This would be the fewest cotton acres in the state since 1991.

On the tobacco front, flue-cured growers plan to plant 154,000 acres or 6 percent less than 2002. Growers did not mirror the 9.5 percent cut in quota because of a decline in yields and carryover from 2002.

Burley producers intend on planting 6,000 acres in 2003, a 5 percent cut from last year.

Sweet potato growers intend on planting 42,000 acres, up 2,000 acres from last year.

Hay producers expect to cut 760,000 acres, 10,000 acres more than last year.

Wheat plantings in North Carolina, at 530,000 acres, are down 4 percent from the December estimate. Plantings are down 120,000 from the previous year.

e-mail: cyancy@primediabusiness.com