North Carolina's Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler says that the outstanding growing conditions for corn in 2012, as well as the good market prices will probably encourage more corn acres in 2013.
The state's livestock industry creates a corn and grain deficit situation in the state, with growers producing only about one third of the livestock industry's needs. Researchers are working to get that percentage raised to about half of the state's livestock needs grown within the state, with the other half coming from the Midwest or overseas.
“There is a lot of talk about what kind of corn acreage we will have this year in NC. One thing we know is that there is continued demand for livestock feed in NC. High prices for corn could mean that farmers plant even more acres than they did a year ago. If you put a good profit margin in front of a farmer, they will try to farm their way out of the profit margin with production.
The USDA does put out a planting intention report in March and while it may not be accurate, its all we have to go on. The one thing we know, we had a good crop last year in NC which gave people profits, and we know that the prices will probably be very good. So when we get this USDA report on planted acres, the probability it that planted acres will be up.
The Midwest is still recovering from the drought and worldwide demand for corn remains high. NC farmers will be looking to benefit from that and we here in NC, if we were a country, would rank number four in the world in the importation of corn to feed our livestock, so there is great demand here for it.
We are a major player in using corn. When you rank as highly as we do in hog production (#2 in the nation) and then look at all of the poultry production, we likely rank #2 as well. The good thing when we grow corn here at home, is it saves transportation costs so it’s beneficial to grow as much as we can here in NC.
We also grow other commodities that are fed to livestock. Wheat has become a substitute for corn in a lot of cases. If you look at the amount of soybeans that we grow in NC, they are also a staple in animal food. Add in grain sorghum, and we are doing a much better job of growing this feed at home than we have ever done in the past.
We are up to about 1/3 of our usage and the goal is to get to ½. There are some things happening with the profit margins, especially corn and beans, there are people who are putting in pivot irrigation to increase the yields and the number of acres they can grow. We have had some farmers experimenting with growing two crops of corn per year.”