Farmers in North Florida have been voting with their pocketbook the last several years. The region was covered up in corn in 2013 with virtually every irrigated acre producing corn as a result of the Midwest drought of 2012. The summer of 2012 brought a large expansion in peanut acreage following a drought shortened southeastern peanut crop in 2011. Each of those crops were hands-down the best money-maker for farmers under the conditions. However leading into 2014 there were no clear cut leaders and farmers have looked at planting fields to meet rotation needs, manage cash flow, handle weed control issues, spread risk, and any other means they could use to justify their decisions. The result of this is a more diverse mix of crops throughout the area. I am pleased to say that the weather has been conducive to good early season growth, and right now none of those look like bad decisions.
Some farmers are looking to the higher soybean market and we have a more acres planted in beans than years past. Cotton has gained popularity locally, although farmers report at the CBOT futures prices it will be a challenge to keep it in the crop mix. Corn has been planted on both irrigated and rain-fed acreage this year. We are looking at perhaps the best rain-fed corn crop I have seen across a wide area with virtually all plantings in good condition, and the critical ear-fill time approaching. We are optimistic June and July rains will lead to a bumper crop. However, we are working hard to knock back diseases in the earlier planted corn right now. The newcomer is sesame, which has been more widely planted this year. I heard early reports of poor stands, however the most recent plantings I have seen are off to a good start. We still grow some tobacco in North Florida, and farmers were pleased with the crop until storms on June 7 and 8 blew the stalks over. Farmers aggressively stood them back up and are hoping for the best. I am hearing reports of tobacco harvest just beginning.
We have a long way to go before the book is closed on 2014 crops. However, I think most are satisfied with the crop conditions on their farms at this time. That positive attitude goes a long way towards having a successful season.