This year’s corn planting will be largest in 77 years — USDA

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013

U.S. farmers will plant 97.3 million acres of corn this year — the largest planting since 1936, the Department of Agriculture said today.

The USDA projection, based on a survey of 80,000 farmers, sets the stage for corn prices through the rest of the year.

Farmers are “determined to make up for a crop that was adversely affected by historic drought last year,” USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said in a statement announcing the report.

While Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota and Oregon farmers are projected to plant record high corn acreage, most Corn Belt states — slammed by drought last year — are expected to see fewer acres of corn planted. Illinois, Missouri and South Dakota are expected to have the largest decreases.

Overall, the report says, the corn acreage planted will be slightly greater than last year.

With 14.2 billion projected acres, Iowa will continue to lead the nation in corn production.

Soybean acreage is expected to slightly dip nationwide to 77.1 million planted acres this year with areas in the Great Plains showing the largest decreases.

“Farmers in some areas of the country remain challenged by persistent drought conditions, which is limiting the amount of expected soybean acreage in some states,” the report says.

Total soybean acreage is nonetheless projected to be the fourth-highest planting on record.

Planted wheat acres are projected to rise about 1 percent from last year to 56.4 million acres, while cotton acres are projected to drop 19 percent from last year to 10 million acres.

Weather will continue to play a large role and will ultimately determine the size of the final crop; last year’s crop began strongly, then fell as drought swept across many of the nation’s major farming regions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting warm weather for the months to come that could result in drought conditions in some areas and flooding in others (Greenwire, March 27).

USDA also today released a highly anticipated quarterly look at the nation’s grain stocks.

Reflected in the corn stocks are the effects from last year’s drought: Corn stocks as of March 1 stood at 5.4 billion bushels, down 10 percent from where they stood last year. The largest decrease in corn stocks was seen in those held by producers on their farms; farmers are storing 2.67 billion bushels of corn on their lands, down 16 percent from this time last year.

Soybean stocks also fell 27 percent over their numbers last year; as of March 1, soybeans stored on and off farms numbered 999 million bushels. Wheat stocks, on the other hand, were at 1.23 billion bushels, up 3 percent from this time last year.