Conservation Tillage Systems in the Southeast

Cash Crop Selections and Rotations

Overview

Historically, crop rotations have been a minor consideration for most row-crop farmers in the region. From antebellum cotton plantations of the early 19th century to sharecropping farms of the early 20th century, cotton and corn were the staple crops with little opportunity for rotations. As in the rest of the South, erosion took its toll on the land and the people who farmed it. Improved pastures and Johnsongrass hayfields became the principal land use of the 20th century until soybeans became the dominant crop of the 1970s and 1980s. Grasslands were converted to large-scale, conventionally tilled, monoculture soybeans with some double-cropping with wheat. Rampant soil erosion ensued until overproduction of soybeans resulted in low commodity prices and USDA conservation reserve programs took most of the highly erodible land out of production. These fields were planted to trees or permanent grasslands. Today, typical crop rotations include rotations of corn>cotton, corn>soybeans, cotton>soybeans and soybeans double-cropped with a small-grain winter cover crop, usually wheat.

Download the tables from Chapter 19.

Table of Contents