Cotton took over many Georgia acres in 1995 and adverse weather damaged crops on other lands, but for many grain farmers, good news came out of the bad.
"The decreased acreage for whatever reason in corn, wheat and soybeans decreased the available supply of all of these grains," said George Shumaker, an economist with the University of Georgia Extension Service.
With fewer acres making supplies tighter, prices increase. That's good news for producers.
"We saw a lot of acreage from corn and other crops shift out of those crops and into cotton," Shumaker said. "That's the main reason acreage (for grain crops) was down in 1995."
During corn-planting season in April, price projections were quite low, and many producers opted for other, more profitable crops, especially cotton.
Adverse weather during the growing season significantly reduced the '95 corn crop. The short crop in Georgia, and increasing world demand, pushed prices up to $3.50 per bushel, some of the highest prices for corn in 10 years.
"This is a good, profitable price for corn," Shumaker said. He expects current prices to rise slightly as stocks decrease through the winter.
Those producers who did make a good crop and are storing it carefully, he said, could realize a healthy profit from the '95 crop.
Proper storage is critical to maintaining corn quality, though. Insect-damaged corn won't bring as high a price, since the nutritive value is decreased.
Farmers must inspect corn storage areas regularly and take action if insects or other storage problems threaten.
Growers planted about the same number of acres of soybeans in '95 as in the year before, but adverse growing conditions, most notably a lack of rainfall, cut yields this year.
"While we have very good soybean prices available right now," Shumaker said, "they may very well be some of the highest prices we're likely to see during the marketing year for the 1995 crop," he said.
South American producers have worked hard and are expected to harvest a large crop. When the crops in that growing area move into the market, Shumaker expects prices to drop. Growers must market carefully to make sure they get the best price they can get for their soybeans.
Many farmers double-crop soybeans with wheat, which Shumaker expects to provide opportunities for profits this year.
"In light of the new farm program, it's an alternative Georgia farmers need to look at this year," he said. "It fits well into many crop rotations, and right now the $4-per-bushel forward price for wheat is the highest I've seen in a while."
Wheat growers in Georgia have just completed their planting season and most report fair to good starts for their crops.
As with any commodity, a poor crop somewhere else means good news for local farmers.
"Producers always need to manage carefully," Shumaker said. Controlling costs allows for more profits no matter what the weather, locally or worldwide.
Supply and demand remain permanent factors in the commodity markets, but close management and effective marketing can help Georgia producers make the most of their winter-grown or winter-stored crops, Shumaker said.