Commissioner Steve Troxler: 2019 Planting Intentions

We have gotten our first look at the 2019 planting intentions for North Carolina farms and it looks like we’ll be seeing more corn and cotton this year. Tobacco plantings look to be down 18 percent.

  • The National Agricultural Statistics Service recently released planting intentions for 2019 and it looks like we will see more corn and cotton, but much less flue-cured tobacco and winter wheat.
  • The projections point to a 7 percent increase in corn plantings, a 9 percent increase in cotton, an 18 percent drop in tobacco plantings from 2018 and a 35 percent drop in winter wheat planted.
  • In terms of acreage, it would mean we are looking at 970,000 acres of corn, 470,000 acres of cotton, 125,000 acres of tobacco and 300,000 acres of winter wheat.
  • According to this report, we’ll see a decline in soybeans (down 6 percent from 2018; 1.55 million acres) and peanuts (down 2 percent; 1 million acres.)
  • Interestingly, farmers have reported that they intend to plant more barley, actually 91 percent more from 11,000 acres to 21,000 acres. Oat production is expected to be down 27 percent from 30,000 acres to 22,000 acres.
  • Of course these are early projections and could ultimately change depending on the weather, input costs and commodity prices. We’ll have a more accurate picture in late June when the acreage report is released.
  • I can’t say that I am surprised by any of the numbers. In my talks around the state, I have cautioned growers that it was likely going to be a bad year for tobacco, particularly as the U.S./China trade negotiations continue. The Chinese market is significant to U.S. and North Carolina tobacco.
  • I remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement on trade issues that would be better for U.S. producers.
  • Farmers have been struggling for a while with low commodity prices, which is hurting the bottom line. And with Hurricane Florence losses and so much uncertainty, it is difficult to know the long-term impact to our ag community.
  • I will say again that I don’t believe we will be defined by what happened in 2018, but by how we respond to it. I am encouraged by some of what I see in this report.