Carolina-Virginia growers are coming off some record yields in 2012 and there are good market prices on a variety of crops. But when a grower has to place bets on which crops are the best for his operation, his bet has to be based not only on the situation today but on what will bring the best prices at harvest time. In addition to that, of course, he must try to choose which crops will best help him avoid weather disasters along the way. This is not an easy game to gamble on.
Generally speaking, this year seems to trending away from cotton in the Carolina-Virginia region, says NCSU cotton specialist Keith Edmisten. "But how much less cotton growers will plant is still in question," he says.
Even though the price of cotton is down, relatively speaking, and corn, wheat and bean prices are up, there are times when the "up" prices trend downward and vice versa. That was often the case in February as soybean prices hiccupped, further contributing to farmers' hesitance.
"A lot of the farmers I've talked to haven't really decided what their mix is going to be but, in general, they are going to be down on cotton and up on soybeans," Edmisten said. "A couple of growers have told me they probably won't decide until sometime in April, probably, especially if the prices keep diverging like they are now."
Nick Piggott, N.C. State University economist, noted during the N.C. Agricultural Development Forum in early February, that grain sorghum is a new exciting crop in the region that got off to a great start last year after contract hog producers like Murphy-Brown LLC let it be known they would buy and stand behind the market.