One of the biggest unknowns heading into spring planting season has been how peanut acreage will respond to weakened demand and the recent Salmonella outbreak.

According to USDA’s first planting intentions report of 2009, growers will reduce their peanut acres by 27 percent.

The report states that peanut growers intend to plant 1.12 million acres this year, as record production in 2008 and concerns about future demand continue to plague the industry.

Peanut growers in the Southeast (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina) intend to plant 855,000 acres in 2009, compared with 1.13 million acres planted in 2008. In Georgia, the largest peanut producing state, planted acreage is expected to decline by 28 percent from last year.

Growers in the Southwest (New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas) intend to plant 182,000 acres 36 percent from the previous year. Plantings in the Virginia-North Carolina region are expected to total 87,000 acres, down 29 percent from 2008. Acreage in Virginia is expected to decline by 50 percent from 2008.

The planting intentions report also states that U.S. corn growers intend to plant 85 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2009, down 1 percent from last year as lower corn prices and unstable input costs are discouraging some growers from planting corn. If realized, this will be the second consecutive year-over-year decrease since 2007 but will still be the third largest acreage since 1949, behind 2007 and 2008.

Expected acreage is down from last year in many states. However, producers in the 10 major corn-producing states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin) collectively intend to plant 66.3 million acres, up slightly from the 66.1 million acres planted last year.

Soybean producers intend to plant 76 million acres in 2009, up slightly from last year. If realized, the U.S. planted area would be the largest on record.

Acreage increases of 100,000 acres or more are expected in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota and Ohio. The largest decreases are expected in Missouri and South Dakota, both 150,000 acres less than 2008. If realized, the planted acreage in Kansas and New York will be the largest on record, and the planted acreage in North Dakota will tie the previous record high.

All wheat planted area is estimated at 58.6 million acres, down 7 percent from 2008. The 2009 winter wheat planted area, at 42.9 million acres, is 7 percent below last year but up 2 percent from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 30.9 million acres are hard red winter, 8.38 million acres are soft red winter, and 3.65 million acres are white winter.

Area planted to other spring wheat for 2009 is expected to total 13.3 million acres, down 6 percent from 2008. Of this total, about 12.7 million acres are hard red spring wheat. The expected durum planted area for 2009 is 2.45 million acres, down 10 percent from the previous year.

All cotton plantings for 2009 are expected to total 8.81 million acres, 7 percent below last year and the lowest since 1983. Upland area is expected to total 8.67 million acres, down 7 percent from last year. Growers intend to decrease planted area in all states except Georgia, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The largest percentage declines are in Arkansas, California, Louisiana and Mississippi. Record-low upland acreage is expected in Louisiana and Mississippi.

American-Pima cotton growers intend to plant 143,500 acres, down 18 percent from 2008. California producers intend to plant 120,000 acres, down 23 percent from last year.

e-mail: phollis@farmpress.com