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Published April 01, 2010, 10:01 AM

Yet another record low expected for Louisiana cotton

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana farmers expect to plant less cotton this year than ever before, but the national total is likely to be up from a year ago, according to a USDA survey.

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana farmers expect to plant less cotton this year than ever before, but the national total is likely to be up from a year ago, according to a USDA survey.

Nationally, farmers expect to plant 10.5 million acres of cotton — about 15 percent above last year — but Louisiana plantings are likely to be down 13 percent from a year ago, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said Wednesday.

Nathan Crisp, head of the service’s Louisiana field office, said according to a March 1 survey Louisiana farmers intend to plant 200,000 acres of cotton this year, down from 230,000 a year ago. That would be the lowest on record, he said.

He said farmers plan to plant more hay, rice, sweet potatoes and sorghum than they did last year, with the biggest percentage increase in grain sorghum and the biggest acreage increase in hay.

An estimated 440,000 acres of hay will be harvested in Louisiana, up 60,000 acres (16 percent) from last year. U.S. producers expect to harvest 60.5 million acres of all hay in 2010, up one percent from 2009.

The survey found that Louisiana farmers plan to plant 43 percent more acres of grain sorghum, bringing the total from 70,000 acres to 100,000 acres. Nationally, farmers estimate they’ll plant 88.8 million acres, 3 percent above both the 2008 and 2009 totals.

Rice acreage in Louisiana is expected to increase to 510,000 acres, up 40,000 acres (9 per-cent) from last year. That’s the same percentage increase expected nationally, for a total of 3.4 million acres.

Sweet potato planted acreage in the state is expected rise 2,000 acres (14 percent) to 16,000 acres. The percentage increase is double that expected nationally, with a total estimate for 117,100 acres.

The largest decrease expected in Louisiana — both in total acreage and percentage — is for winter wheat. Louisiana farmers said they seeded 150,000 acres last fall, down 35,000 acres and 19 percent from a year earlier. Nationwide, farmers planted 37.7 million acres, down 9 percent from a year earlier.

Crisp said Louisiana’s soybean planted acreage is expected to drop 10,000 acres (1 percent) from last year, to 1.01 million acres. Nationally, soybean plantings are estimated at 78.1 mil-lion acores — a national record, though up less than 1 percent from last year.

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