Last year's drought had a devastating affect on farmers throughout the region. This spring, the farming outlook is all about change.
This year, growers are expecting to plant more corn in place of cotton or peanuts.
Ethanol biofuel production is on the rise and the demand for livestock corn feed is still there, making corn more profitable than ever and Wiregrass farmers are taking notice.
Grower Curry Parker said, "It took us a little while. We still wanted to think peanuts, peanuts, peanuts. But we have changed that thinking. When there's a profit in corn, we'll go with corn. When there's a profit with soybeans, we've got to go with soybeans. If you've got the equipment, you've got to be very diversified."
Mr. Parker farms about 3500 acres in Henry and Houston County and this year, he plans to cut back on cotton and double his corn planting from 300 to 600 acres.
Parker says, "We really need the markets there, or seem to be there, so we need to produce this year. As a farmer, I don't need to let anything go unturned. I need to be on top of my game. And if the good Lord blesses us with water, this could be a very profitable crop."
However, water is a necessity.
Researchers say last year brought some of the worst yields ever because of the drought.
And, unpredictable rainfall patters in the Wiregrass makes corn a hit-or-miss crop.
Henry County Extension Coordinator Jimmy Jones said, "I think irrigation is going to be very important for farmers this year. Rotations are very important as well. That's where we get our yields up."
And growers are expected to be more diversified with their crops in 2007 than in the past several years.
Researchers say drought is not expected to be an issue this year because in the past, droughts are typically followed by a good season.
Those who will grow corn this year will begin planting in the next few weeks.
There is a corn production update meeting Thursday night.
It will be held at the Extension and Research Center in Headland from 6 to 8:30PM.
All are welcome to attend.