Farmers planting more acres of cotton, sweet potatoes, tobacco this year

by | Jun 30, 2011

Photo of harvester in cotton field

Cotton growers intend to plant 760,000 acres this year, the most since 2006.

North Carolina farmers are planting more acres of cotton, tobacco, sweet potatoes and winter wheat this year, but fewer acres of corn, peanuts and soybeans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s June Acreage Report.

Cotton growers intend to plant 760,000 acres, 38 percent more than last year and the most since 2006. Across the country, cotton acres are up 25 percent compared with 2010.

North Carolina is the nation’s leading producer of sweet potatoes, and this year’s plantings won’t leave that ranking in doubt, as acreage of the crop will be the highest in nearly 70 years. Growers say they’ll plant an estimated 65,000 acres of sweet potatoes this year, a 10,000-acre increase from a year ago and the most since 1944.

Tobacco plantings are seeing a bit of a rebound this year after dipping to 166,000 acres in 2010. Farmers expect to harvest 172,000 acres this year.

The June acreage estimates for cotton, sweet potatoes and tobacco are higher than originally estimated in the USDA’s Prospective Plantings Report in March.

Production of winter wheat also increased this year, with farmers planting 700,000 acres, 40 percent more than in 2010.

Increases in these crops are likely contributing to decreases in acreage for other crops.

Farmers intend to plant 900,000 acres of corn this year, 10,000 fewer than in 2010. Nationally, corn acreage is expected to be about 5 percent higher than last year.

N.C. peanut acres also are down 10,000 from last year, to 77,000.

Farmers are planting an estimated 1.4 million acres of soybeans this year, 10 percent less than a year ago. Soybean acreage also will be down nationally, the USDA report said.