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Farmers to plant more biotech corn, soybeans this year

(Tuesday, April 1, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Emily Gersema, Associated Press, 03/31/03: Farmers will plant slightly more biotech corn and soybeans this spring, the Agriculture Department said Monday.

Nationwide, 38 percent of the 79 million acres of corn planted this year probably will be biotech, according to a department survey. That includes corn genetically engineered to tolerate Monsanto Co.'s Roundup weedkiller and another variety genetically designed to resist insects.

The 38 percent estimate is 4 percentage points higher than last year's biotech corn crop. The total number of acres planted in corn of both types last year also was 79 million.

With drought expected to continue in many areas this year, farmers in the Great Plains are planning to grow fewer acres of corn. South Dakota growers intend to plant 4.3 million acres of corn, 100,000 acres less than last year. Texas farmers probably will plant 1.75 million acres of corn, 17 percent less than last year.

North Dakota is the only Great Plains state that is increasing its corn crop. The state's farmers intend to plant 1.35 million acres, up 10 percent from last year.

Soybean growers also will plant more biotech crops. Department economists predict 80 percent of the 73.2 million acres planted with soybeans this year will be a biotech variety designed to resist Roundup herbicide. That's up 5 percentage points from last year's biotech soybean crop.

Farmers may grow more biotech soybeans but the entire crop is expected to be the smallest since 1998. It is expected to be down 1 percent from the 73.8 million acres grown last year.

Growers are switching back to planting corn this year because wet weather last year prevented them from planting it, forcing them to plant soybeans instead.

As part of the annual biotech crop survey, the department interviewed 75,000 growers in 48 corn states and 31 soybean states.

On the Net:

Planting Survey: http://www.usda.gov/nass