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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee farmers who grow cotton, soybeans, corn and wheat could be looking at their best financial year of the 1990s, a University of Tennessee agricultural economist said Monday.

Dr. Charles Farmer said the law of supply and demand favors the growers this year, if they get adequate rain when their crops need it.

“Conditions look pretty favorable this year for Tennessee growers, and they’re very optimistic in terms of income prospects for cotton, soybeans, corn and wheat,” Farmer said. “The row crop guys are on a roll.”

Farmer said world-wide stocks on feed grains and cotton are very low.

“If we get a good growing season and less insect pressure in the case of cotton, I think we’re looking at a very good year.”

The new farm law provides farmers “more planting flexibility. They’re wide open to grow whatever they choose,” he said.

Soybean prices this year likely will be above the average for the last five years, but Tennessee is directly affected by what happens to growers in other parts of the country, Farmer said.

“One potential fly in the ointment is that we could see even more (soybean) acres in the Midwest than we anticipated because it is very wet in the eastern part corn belt,” Farmer said.

“If that corn cannot be planted in the next couple of weeks, those acres could be shifted to soybeans.”

Cotton farmers are fairly optimistic because world-wide demand for cotton is up and fewer U.S. acres will be planted in cotton this year, keeping prices fairly high, Farmer said. In Tennessee this year, farmers are shifting some cotton acreage to corn and soybeans, Farmer said.

Weather, however, can be the farmer’s best friend or biggest enemy.

“If we should run into some weather problems in the northern hemisphere, we could have big problems (shortages) in feed grains,” Farmer said, referring to the need for adequate rain during the growing season.

Contact: Charles Farmer (423-974-7271)