Local farmers planted about the same acreage for corn and cotton – 1,300 each.
Corn prices are up about $1 from last September or $7.35 per bushel while the price for cotton is 72 cents per pound, down 21 cents from 2011.
Cotton is now being harvested and farmers hope for 800 pounds per acre. This prediction can change once it is gathered from the fields.
Ricky Ensley, Extension Coordinator, said corn production this year averages about 20 bushels from last year or 80 bushels an acre.
“Corn did suffer due to drought,” he said. “Rainfall was sparse when the crop was developing (June-July).”
Hay production is down for cattlemen producing forage for animals. Cuttings dropped from 3 to 2 due to the lack of rainfall.
In addition to corn and cotton, local farmers planted 1,800 acres of soybeans, 1,400 acres of wheat and 7,000 acres of hay land.
Due to a price increase, 800 more acres were planted in soybeans this year compared to 2011. In September, soybeans were listed at $16.30 a bushel, up $4.10 from the past year.
Wheat prices increased about 95 cents per bushel and Polk farmers planted 600 more acres compared to 2011.
Meanwhile, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports the following:
Corn production is forecast at 10.7 billion bushels, down 13 percent from 2011. This represents the lowest production in the United States since 2006. Based on conditions as of October 1, yields are expected to average 122.0 bushels per acre or 25.2 bushels below the 2011 average.
Soybean production is forecast at 2.86 billion bushels, up 9 percent from September but down 8 percent from last year.
Based on October 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 37.8 bushels per acre, up 2.5 bushels from last month but down 4.1 bushels from last year. Compared with last month, yield forecasts are higher or unchanged across all States.
All cotton production is forecast at 17.3 million 480-pound bales, up 1 percent from last month and up 11 percent from last year. Yield is expected to average 795 pounds per acre, up 5 pounds from last year. Upland cotton production is forecast at 16.6 million 480-pound bales, up 13 percent from 2011.
In Polk, Ensley said the number of row crop farmers has dropped during the past few decades. Younger people with smaller acreage — 3 to 5 acres — are shifting to fruits and vegetables. He said this trend is due to consumers, who seek fresh produce at local markets.
More people are also giving attention to raising goats or sheep. Ethnic groups are credited with this growing trend.
And, interest in beekeeping has increased during the past year as more individuals see it as a way to add to the family income after retirement.
Although the crop report appears favorable, farmers still have financial challenges due to pests and cost of fuel.
In 2012, the kudzu bug invaded local soybean fields. This is not the only pest that wants a home in Polk. There are others but no boll weevils have been reported.
The cost of fuel has also brought changes in the way farmers till their land, according to Ensley.
“They don’t spend as much time on the tractor going across the field,” he said. “This is due to more efficient use of equipment and fuel.”