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Farmers plan 2012 crops; peanut acreage to triple

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Farmers in Mississippi, where an Oklahoma peanut processor proposes to set up two buying and drying warehouses in time for this year’s crop, plan to triple their peanut acreage, the National Agricultural Statistics Service says.

It’s the largest planned percentage increase of any state, but still, well, peanuts compared to the 570,000 acres planned in Georgia, where 475,000 acres were planted last year.

Mississippi’s plans for 50,000 acres — up from 15,000 last year — would put it sixth among the 10 peanut-producing states. Together, they all plan to add 281,400 acres of peanuts to last year’s 1.1 million, for a 25 percent increase.

Last year’s crop was hurt by hot weather in states like Texas and Georgia, and some farmers switched to more profitable crops such as corn and cotton. The resulting shortage sent peanut butter prices up 30 percent or more.

Weather and economic changes during the planting season can change plans. But if Mississippi farmers put in the 50,000 acres they plan to, it would be the highest total since 1943, according to NASS statisticians in Washington.

The Clint Williams Co.’s plans for buying points and drying stations in Clarksdale and Greenwood also played a big part in Mississippi’s increase, said Serial Kenerson, deputy director of the NASS field office in Jackson, Miss.

He said the state’s record high was 58,000 acres in 1942, but in the 1950s fewer than 10,000 acres were planted each year. Because totals were so low, the agency stopped getting planting estimates in 1981 and didn’t resume until 2005.

Farmers estimate they planted 48,000 acres of winter wheat in the fall, up 33 percent from the previous year. That compares to a 3 percent national increase, to 41.7 million acres.

Sorghum producers said they put in 80,000 acres, up 54 percent from last year. Nationally, there was a 9 percent increase to 5.95 million planted acres.

Cotton producers intend to plant 580,000 acres this year, down 8 percent from the previous year. Nationally, planned acreage is down 11 percent, to 13.2 million acres.

The largest decrease is in rice. Farmers told the U.S. Department of Agriculture agency that they plan to sow 135,000 acres in rice — down 16 percent from last year’s total.

Planned Mississippi and national acreage reported to NASS and changes from last year include:

—Soybeans, 1.75 million, down 4 percent; nationally 73.9 million acres, down 1 percent.

—Corn, 900,000 acres, up 11 percent; nationally 95.9 million, up 4 percent.

—Rice, 135,000 acres, down 16 percent from last year and potentially the lowest total in Mississippi since 1977. Nationally, 2.56 million, down 5 percent.

—Sweet potatoes, 23,000 acres, down 4 percent; nationally 133,400 acres, down 1 percent.


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