More cotton and sorghum acres than corn could be planted by Texas farmers this year resulting from an upswing in future prices, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service economist.

The recent Prospective Plantings report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural Statistics Service projects 5.6 million cotton acres will be planted in Texas – up from 5 million acres in 2009. Projected sorghum acres for Texas this year are 2.4 million acres compared to 2.7 million acres in 2009. State corn acres are projected at 2.2 million this year compared to 2.3 million in 2009.

Dr. Mark Welch, AgriLife Extension grain economist, said he attributes the change to pricing.

“The moisture situation is much better across the state compared to last year, which favors all crops, but in the first quarter of the year, cotton prices are relatively high and grains are on a downward slide,” he said.

The USDA-Risk Management Agency uses future prices in February to set the base price for Crop Revenue Coverage insurance policies, Welch said.

“The base price for cotton is 72 cents (per pound), corn $3.99 a bushel and sorghum $3.90 a bushel,” he said. “At these prices, the returns for cotton are higher than either the corn or sorghum in many production areas.”

Welch said the planting intentions survey was conducted in February and early March, “so producers in much of the state can still change their minds, but prices since the survey have been higher for cotton and lower for grains.”

“I think this will confirm this report and possibly add even more cotton to Texas,” he said.

Nationally, U.S. farmers plan to plant a record-high 78.1 million acres in soybeans in 2010. According to NASS, intended soybean acres are expected to increase 1 percent from last year’s previous record, while corn planted acres is expected to increase 3 percent, to 88.8 million acres. This would be the second-largest corn crop since 1947, behind 2007.

The largest soybean acreage increases are expected in Kansas, up 400,000 acres, and Iowa, up 300,000. Increases of 100,000 or more acres are also expected in Illinois, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Expected corn acreage is up in many states due to reduced winter wheat acreage and growers expectations of improved net returns. Increases of 300,000 or more corn acres are expected in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Ohio. Iowa continues to lead the nation with 13.5 million corn acres, despite an expected drop of 200,000 acres from 2009.

NASS estimates 2010 cotton plantings at 10.5 million acres, up 15 percent from last year. Wheat acreage is expected to decline 9 percent to 53.8 million acres, the smallest total area since 1970. The area planted to winter wheat is the smallest since 1913.

The Prospective Plantings report as well as grain stocks and other reports are available online at http://www.nass.usda.gov.