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Production costs impact crop plans
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Energy and fertilizer prices appear to be driving farmers significantly away from crops that require more inputs in favor of crops that need less.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual prospective plantings report March 31, and Mississippi producers are predicted to decrease rice plantings by 21 percent and corn acreage by 13 percent.
“We have been talking all winter about how energy and fertilizer prices will affect farmers' planting decisions, and we strongly suspected there would be some changes from corn to soybeans,” said John Anderson, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “This report suggests much less corn and much more soybean acreage than previously anticipated.
“The issue of fertilizer and fuel costs will be a very big factor in producers' minds. We're looking at historically high prices in both of those,” he said. “Fuel and fertilizer costs will be higher than last year, especially than at planting time last year when farmers were making their 2005 crop decisions.”
The USDA predicts Mississippi farmers will plant 330,000 acres of corn, down from 380,000 last year, and 210,000 acres of rice, down from 265,000. The state's soybean acreage is predicted to be 1.7 million, which is 6 percent more than last year's 1.6 million acres. Cotton will be 1.22 million acres, up 1 percent from 1.21 million last year.
“From a historic perspective, if these estimates hold, we are looking at the lowest corn acreage nationally since 2001 and the largest soybean acreage ever,” Anderson said.
Erick Larson, Extension small grains specialist, agreed Mississippi corn acreage will fall this season.
“We are expecting to see the lowest state corn acreage since 1995 primarily because of the fertilizer prices. Corn has high nitrogen demands,” Larson said. “Another factor affecting planting intentions is that corn and rice suffered the most last year from the hurricane damage. Growers experienced harvest difficulties, required more time and fuel to harvest and had more issues with equipment maintenance because winds blew the crops down before most fields were harvested.”
Dennis Reginelli, Extension area agronomic crops agent based in Noxubee County, said his growers typically remain true to their rotation plans.
“Growers will remember that soybeans were very good last year, and they also know that fuel and fertilizer prices are higher,” he said. “We will see some corn acres move over to soybeans.”