NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana farmers are planting more soybeans than they have in 14 years but may tie a record low for cotton, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Changing weather patterns appeared to be a factor as the wet early spring gave way to a drier pattern. So farmers are planting more soybeans and less rice than originally expected.
The USDA's July crop report says Louisiana farmers are planting 1.14 million acres of soybeans, the highest since 1.2 million acres in 1998 and 70,000 acres more than projected in March. Nationwide, soybean planting is up about 1 percent from 2011 at an estimated 76.1 million acres, the highest on record.
Louisiana farmers have planted about 400,000 acres of rice, down 23,000 from 2011 and 55,000 acres less than they'd planned in March. About 2.7 million acres of rice have been planted nationwide, down 1 percent from last year and the smallest acreage since 1987, the crop report said.
Officials expect 230,000 acres to be planted in cotton, tying a low-acreage record for Louisiana set in 2009. Nationwide, farmers are putting about 12.6 million acres into cotton, down 14 percent from last year, the agency reported.
The 11,000 acres Louisiana farmers expect to plant in sweet potatoes would be the lowest on record, USDA said. It also would be down 3,000 acres from 2011 and 2,000 from March estimates.
Other estimated crop plantings in Louisiana:
— Corn, 570,000 acres, down 10,000 from last year and down 20,000 from March intentions.
— Grain sorghum, 110,000 acres, down 20,000 from both 2011 and March plans.
— Sugarcane for sugar and seed harvest, 420,000 acres, up 10,000 acres from last year.
— Hay, 450,000 acres, up 20,000 acres from 2011 and 10,000 acres above March intentions.