Friday, May 29, 2009

An Uncertain Crop

I made a meandering trip to Dothan and back yesterday and today and I can tell you if you are a farmer with corn right now you are really happy you chose to plant corn. It looks absolutely beautiful after the cooler than normal and wetter than normal weather.

I also noticed more acres of soybeans this year than in any recent year since the decline of the 80's. Soybeans may be becoming the new peanut. They take up space in a peanut rotation so a farmer who plants an acre of soybeans and chooses to stay on a three year rotation will have had that acre out of peanuts for six years. A four year rotation means eight years. I was talking to one farmer who will get over $9.50 for his beans and they will pick them up in the field. If you consider the cost of soy versus peanut and the risk is sure a lot less on an acre of soybeans. A ton of soybeans is 33.33 bushels or $316.67 per ton. Managed properly growers under similar management could anticipate two ton soybeans compared to two ton peanuts. All with less cost. The question is how much less?

It used to be that the shellers had to determine the cotton to peanut price relationship but now soybeans add a new variable and a more interesting complication with the rotation.

Now, for peanut conditions. Where they are not drowned out peanuts as a rule look OK. Not fantastic, just OK. I am really concerned that we are not developing any depth to the root system based on the excessive rainfall. I am also concerned that seedling disease pressures have been pretty heavy and what will poor emergence, weakened seedlings, and the drowned out skips do to the pressure from TSWV. It has been very light for the past couple of years and we could really get hammered if we don't watch it. Also, half of the crop is not yet planted and the crop insurance deadline is Sunday.

All this said it is going to be another year of challenges for the peanut industry and for farmers in general.

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