Farmers in the Southeast appear to be following the national trend this year of planting fewer cotton and peanut acres and substantially more corn acres than in 2006.

According to the USDA’s first prospective plantings report of 2007, U.S. farmers will plant 20 percent fewer cotton acres, 4 percent fewer peanut acres and 15 percent more corn than in 2006.

U.S. cotton plantings for 2007 are expected to total 12.1 million acres or 20 percent below last year. Upland acreage is expected to total 11.9 million, down 21 percent from last year and the lowest since 1989. Growers intend to decrease planted area in all states, with the largest acreage declines in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Mississippi and Texas.

In the lower Southeast, Georgia growers are expected to plant 1,150,000 acres of cotton this year, a significant 250,000 acres less than last year. In Alabama, cotton acres are forecast at 450,000, down 22 percent from last year. In the upper Southeast, North Carolina farmers intend to plant 570,000 cotton acres in 2007, down 300,000 acres from last year.

U.S. peanut producers intend to plant 1.2 million acres of peanuts in 2007, down 4 percent from last year. If realized, planted acreage would be the lowest since 1915. Southeast growers — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina — intend to plant 857,000 acres, down 10 percent from last year. The most significant acreage decline in this region is expected in Georgia, down 14 percent from last year, where producers intend to plant more corn and soybeans.

In the Virginia-North Carolina region, producers intend to plant 118,000 acres of peanuts, up 16 percent from 2006.

Growers in the Southwest — New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas — intend to plant 222,000 acres, up 17 percent from last year.

If Georgia’s early projections hold true, peanut acreage will total about 500,000 acres or 80,000 acres below last year. Disappointing yields from 2006 and large inventories caused a downward shift in acres.

In Alabama, peanut acres are forecast at 160,000, down 5,000 acres from 2006. North Carolina peanut producers, meanwhile, are increasing their peanut acreage by 11 percent, to 94,000 acres in 2007.

U.S. corn growers intend to plant 90.5 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2007, up 15 percent from 2006 and 11 percent higher than 2005. If realized this would be the highest acreage since 1944, when 95.5 million acres were planted for all purposes. Expected acreage is up in nearly all states.

In Georgia, corn planting for 2007 is expected to total 500,000 acres. This would be a substantial increase of 220,000 acres from last year. If these acres are realized, this would be the highest corn acreage in the state since 1998.

In Alabama, planting intentions for corn showed the most increase of all row crops, up 50 percent from last year at 300,000 acres. In North Carolina, corn plantings are expected to total 1.05 million acres in 2007, 260,000 acres more than in 2006.

U.S. soybean producers intend to plant 67.1 million acres in 2007, down 11 percent from last year. If realized, this will be the lowest planted area since 1996. Acreage decreases are expected in all growing areas, except in New York and the Southeast.

Georgia has one of the largest increases in soybean acreage, at 250,000 acres. This is 95,000 acres or 61 percent above 2006.

In Alabama, soybean acres increased 19 percent from last year to 190,000 acres, up 10 percent from the five-year average.

In North Carolina, soybean plantings, at 1.4 million acres, are expected to increase 30,000 acres from a year ago.

All U.S. tobacco area for harvest in 2007 is expected to be 344,170 acres, up 2 percent from 2006 and 16 percent above 2005. Despite the increase, tobacco acreage is still below levels prior to the elimination of the tobacco quota program and price supports.

An increase in burley acreage this year is expected to offset a slight decrease in flue-cured tobacco acreage.

In Georgia, tobacco growers are planning to increase their 2007 acreage to 19,000, up 2,000 acres or 12 percent from last year.

In North Carolina, flue-cured tobacco growers expect to plant 155,000 acres in 2007, unchanged from 2006. Burley tobacco growers expect to plant 3,600 acres in 2007, down from 3,800 acres in 2006.

All U.S. wheat planted area is estimated at 60.3 million acres, up 5 percent from 2006. The 2007 winter wheat planted area, at 44.5 million acres, is 10 percent above last year and up 1 percent from the previous estimate.

Georgia’s wheat seeding for 2007 totaled 400,000 acres, up a significant 170,000 acres from 2006. This acreage is 100,000 more than the intentions survey in December of 2006, and would be the highest since 1997.

Winter wheat acreage in Alabama is estimated at 130,000, which is up 30,000 acres from the 2006 crop.

In North Carolina, wheat plantings, at 610,000 acres, are up 9 percent from 2006.

U.S. hay producers expect to harvest 63.1 million acres of all hay in 2007, up 4 percent from 2006. Harvested acres are expected to increase from last year throughout the Great Plains and Southeast. Due to last year's drought reduced production and low hay supplies, harvested area is expected to increase by more than 100,000 acres throughout the Great Plains and in Alabama, Missouri and Minnesota.

Georgia’s hay acreage expected to be harvested for 2007 is forecast at 680,000 acres or 30,000 acres more than last year.

Alabama’s hay acreage intended for harvest is estimated at 900,000 acres, up 25 percent from last year and up 15 percent from five-year average.

North Carolina hay producers expect to cut 695,000 acres in 2007, up 5,000 acres from 2006.

e-mail: phollis@farmpress.com