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• Among the primary crops planted in the Southeast, economists speaking at the Tennessee agricultural forum agreed that grain crops will likely remain a good crop for Southeastern growers, while traditional crops like cotton and peanuts may face a difficult time competing for acreage.
Southeast acreage down
Cotton acreage in the Southeast in 2012 was down in virtually every state and significantly down in some states.
North Carolina, for example, had a decrease of about 180,000 acres last year. While the acreage cuts were not nearly so severe in some states the overall impact was a significant decrease in cotton acreage across the Southeast as a region.
Projections for acreage in 2013 vary dramatically from one source to another. Some cotton insiders say they expect similar drops across the cotton belt for the coming year.
Among the Southeast’s traditional crops peanuts may have the bleakest outlook of them all. Price expectations led to increased acreage throughout the Southeast in 2012. However, much of the peanut crop was planted without the benefit of firm contracts.
In Georgia alone, it’s estimated that more than half the crop was planted without a contract.
Tyron Spearman, peanut industry observer, says too many farmers saw too many dollar signs. The end result, he says, is exactly what we expected — too many peanuts.
Domestically and worldwide, demand for peanuts remains good. Despite that, over-production will likely keep prices low for the 2012 crop and likely into the 2013 growing season. The end result will likely be a significant decrease in peanut acreage for the upcoming year.
While high grain prices have been a boon for some farmers, the corresponding high price for livestock feed has been devastating for many.
For example, beef cattle numbers are at their lowest level since 1952 and production is near historic lows (22.5 billion pounds).
The economic news is not all bad for livestock producers, at least for those able to stay in the business. Beef prices over the past two years have risen by 53 percent and hog prices are up by 65 percent.
Despite the high prices, production is expected to fall 45 percent and pork and poultry production by 1-2 percent in 2013.