Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
The U.S. economy appears to be recovering – at least statistically. Americans bought more homes in February. Orders to factories for big-ticket items were higher. And consumers in general spent more. Given that consumer spending comprises two-thirds of the American economy, it would appear the economy is righting itself.
For Rural Americans, especially those in states that are more dependent on the farm sector, the recovery is taking a bit longer. But spring approaches and with it hope, and government projections for grain, fiber, and oilseed crops.
With the exception of corn, total acres planted to most major commodities will decline this year.
Soybean producers intend to plant 73 million acres this year, down 2 percent from last year. The decrease would have been more substantial were it not for a shift from cotton to soybeans across the South.
Nationwide, cotton plantings this year will total 14.8 million acres, a 6 percent drop from last year. Upland cotton acres, in particular, will decrease, while American=Pima cotton acres will rise by 5 percent.
Wheat acres, too, continue to decline and this year will total some 59 million acres. That's the lowest level in 30 years.
SLUG: Corn planting
The lone exception to the trend is corn, which will see a 4 percent rise in plantings to 79 million acres. Most of the increase will occur in the traditional areas of the Corn Belt, where cooperative weather has farmers optimistic about getting the crop planted on time.