As in other Mid-South states, corn acreage in Tennessee and the Missouri Bootheel is expected to rise in 2007.
While Tennessee lost corn acreage last year, Angela Thompson expects the commodity to at least “gain those acres back. That means we’ll probably be back to our norm in corn acres — around 650,000.”
The Tennessee Extension corn and soybean specialist believes any move to corn will be at cotton’s expense.
“The corn acres that we lost last year typically went to cotton. We were short about 100,000 acres of corn in 2006. And there’s a chance that corn acres will be higher than 650,000.”
In the Bootheel, “I’ve heard that there will be a shift of 20 percent from cotton to corn,” says Gene Stevens, crop production specialist at the Delta Center in Portageville, Mo. “After speaking with fertilizer and seed dealers, that doesn’t seem out of line and is probably being conservative.”
Any shift will be on lesser cotton soils. “Around Kennett, Mo., and other areas where cotton is consistently two-bales, cotton acres will probably hold. The really good soils will still be in cotton. But as you get further east in the Bootheel, there’s less certainty and more corn will be planted.”
Right now, some areas of Tennessee are too dry to plant corn. “A few showers are running through right now and, if it warms up, that’ll help producers wanting to start planting later this week,” says Thompson. “We’ve had a little corn planted but not a lot. A cold front came through (March 16-17) and that slowed down any planting. It’s since warmed up, so producers will get back in the field as quickly as they can.”
Both specialists say farmer interest in grain sorghum is higher than normal. “No doubt, there’s more interest,” says Stevens. “I have a computer program that, after entering data on a number of factors, will calculate potential profits. Until this year, I’d never had anyone ask what potential the program was showing for grain sorghum. I’ve had to change some of the numbers in the program because of the rising price of grain sorghum.
“So, there’s some activity and curiosity regarding grain sorghum in the Bootheel.”
Sorghum acreage in Tennessee “is a big question mark,” says Thompson. “Claims about sorghum have bounced around all winter. However, acreage in Tennessee is usually pretty low. Around 25,000 acres of grain sorghum is good for us.”
Regardless, Tennessee will still plant over 1 million acres of soybeans. “I don’t think there will be a big change there.”