The state’s largest farms are in western Tennessee, where cotton has historically been the leading crop. Cotton is supplemented, or in some sections supplanted, by corn, soybeans, vegetables, strawberries, and tobacco. Eastward in the Nashville Basin, livestock predominate. Cattle, hogs, sheep, horses, and poultry are raised there. On some farms, dairying is the chief source of income. Corn, hay, and other crops are grown mainly to feed the livestock, not for cash. However, in the Nashville Basin and on the Highland Rim, tobacco is an important crop.
Farm yields are generally lower in the Cumberland Plateau, where poor eroded soils, steep slopes, and lack of machinery and transportation have hampered agricultural development.
Livestock raising (including dairying), and the cultivation of fruit, vegetables, and tobacco are carried on. Conditions improve in the Ridge and Valley province to the east, where farmers engage in tobacco cultivation and livestock raising.
There were 79,000 farms in Tennessee in 2008. Of those, only 29 percent had annual sales of more than $10,000. Many of the remainder were part-time operations whose farmers held other jobs. Farmland covered 4.4 million hectares (10.9 million acres), or 46 percent of the state’s land surface. At 56 hectares (138 acres), the average farm was relatively small.
Crops occupy 55 percent of the farmland, and they account for 54 percent of the income generated on farms. The sales of livestock and animal products generate the remainder of farm income.
Tennessee had a well-diversified crop base in the late 1990s, with income coming from cotton (including cotton lint and seed), soybeans, tobacco, corn, and nursery items. The state usually ranks among the leading states in tobacco production. In addition, wheat, greenhouse products, and vegetables such as tomatoes and snap beans are raised.
The sale of cattle and calves was the leading source of farm income in 1997, generating one-fifth of all sales. Other major sources of income include broilers (young chickens), eggs, dairy products, and hogs. Horses are also raised. The central part of the Nashville Basin is noted for its horse farms, where the famous Tennessee Walking Horse, which has a distinctively smooth gait, is raised. "Tennessee" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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