Cutbacks on peanuts, cotton may be a blessing - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Cutbacks on peanuts, cotton may be a blessing

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February 9, 2007

Colquitt County --  The next several weeks will be crucial for Georgia farmers trying to determine just how many acres to plant and what crops to plant. 

South Georgia farmers are watching the price of corn and other crops closely, and looking at the projections before they decide whether they'll cut back on cotton or peanuts for a chance to profit on higher predicted corn prices, because of the alternative fuel boom. 

The decision of what to plant this year for south Georgia farmers is harder than ever. "Yes, They going to have to make a decision if they're going to plant corn, which crop they're going to take out of production," said Gary Johnson, Colquitt Ag Service Manager.

With farm acreage at a maximum, the choice for most, cut back on cotton or peanuts, right now it looks like both. Louie Perry,Georgia Cotton Commission Chairman, said, "I'd say we'll have a 10 to 12 percent decrease in cotton in Georgia next year, we're going to have 200,000 acres plus increase in corn."

Recent low prices for peanut crops however could make the decision easy.   "When you put the price corn at 150 bushels per acre which is a good yield, is a lot more than what you can make with 300,000 pounds of peanuts," said Johnson.

Crop cutbacks could be a blessing in disguise, raising poor peanut prices by simply lowering the supply. "The Sheller who actually buys the peanuts from the farmer, will actually come out with a higher contract, is what we're hoping will happen," said Johnson.

And even if those high corn prices don't come through for farmers, eventually they could better their peanut crop.   "Corn is the best rotation for peanuts and we have not grown corn here in the last 10 to 15 years," Johnson said. "So if nothing else it will help us on two years down the road on peanut rotation."

In fact, a two year rotation of corn is estimated to increase the quality of the peanut crop nearly $100 an acre. 

Cotton growers say they're watching foreign markets closely especially China, because that will influence their decision between cotton or corn.  Three-quarters of Georgia's cotton is sold in China.

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