Cotton and peanuts have traditionally been among crop royalty in the South. Historically, if cotton is to be called king, surely peanuts would be the crown prince, but both are likely to face severe challenges for acreage in the upcoming 2013 planting season.

Continued high prices for grain crops, enforced by companies willing to pay Southeast growers premium prices for grain grown for livestock rations and for oil, continues to pique interest of growers.

The 10-fold increase in sorghum acreage in North Carolina from 2011 to 2012 is indicative of the interest growers are looking at higher paying, more sustainable crops than the two traditional crop leaders in the Southeast.

Few expect corn acreage to fall as demand remains strong and prices at more than double what they were three to four years ago.

Wheat acreage will likely reach record levels in the Upper Southeast in 2013. The combined impact of high grain prices will no doubt have a serious effect on cotton and peanut acreage in 2013. How big an effect probably won’t be known until all spring crops are in the ground, but look for the king and prince to take a significant shot next spring.

Luray, S.C., grower Bud Bowers grows both crops. “This was the best crop of peanuts and cotton we’ve ever had on our farm,” he says. He had dryland cotton that produced three bales per acre and dryland peanuts that produced nearly three tons to the acre.

“I’m grateful for the crops we grew this year, but I’m very concerned about the future of both cotton and peanuts, because of the pricing situation. It looks like we will grow more corn next year, but peanuts and cotton — I just don’t know,” he says.

Bowers story is not much different from cotton and peanut growers from north Florida to south Virginia. Most have one thing in common about future plans for cotton and peanuts — uncertainty.

Cotton is coming off a year of large acreage reductions across most of the Southeast and this year seems to be another in which grower confidence in cotton prices will cause further acreage losses.

At a recent meeting of the North Carolina Crop Consultants Association, a poll of consultants from North and South Carolina and Virginia seems to validate industry predictions for lower acreage.

In North Carolina, the largest of the cotton-producing states in the Upper Southeast, several consultants indicated an additional 10-20 percent drop in acreage is likely.