To no one’s surprise, California producers are following those in the rest of the U.S. and planting more corn this spring – apparently at least partly at the expense of cotton and other spring-seeded crops.

California farmers are expected to plant 620,000 acres of corn for all purposes, 19 percent above last year. U.S. corn growers intend to plant 90.5 million acres of corn for all purposes, 15 percent above 2006.

Most of California’s corn production in recent years has been harvested as silage for dairies. Last year, only 110,000 acres of the 520,000 acres planted was harvested for grain; the rest was chopped for silage.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service did not estimate early on how much of this year’s crop would go for grain because of the high grain prices caused by demand for ethanol.

Not surprisingly, cotton acreage is forecast to be down, with California farmers intending to plant 210,000 acres to Upland/Acala cotton. If realized, this would be 26 percent below the acreage in 2006. A good part of that decline was likely due to a switch to corn or other non-cotton crops like dry beans.

Producers are expected to plant 250,000 acres to American-Pima cotton this year, a somewhat surprising 9 percent decline from 275,000 last year. This drop was likely due to lower prices for Pima this spring than many growers were expecting. There was a strong belief that the price would reach $1 per pound or more, which thus far has not happened.

Nationally, all cotton plantings for 2007 are expected to total 12.1 million acres, 20 percent below last year.

California oats acreage is expected to total 250,000 acres, 7 percent below last year. U.S. producers planned to plant 4.03 million acres, down 3 percent from last year’s planted area.

California farmers were expected to plant 25,000 acres to sorghum, 22 percent below 2006. U.S. sorghum for all purposes in 2007 is estimated at 7.11 million acres, up 9 percent from 2006.

Dry edible bean acreage in California is expected to total 70,000 acres, up 4 percent from 2006. Nationally, farmers intend to plant 1.50 million acres of dry edible beans, 8 percent below last year.

email: hcline@farmpress.com