March 28 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. farmers will sow fewer acres with soybeans this year, the government said, surprising analysts who were expecting a gain. Corn will get the most acreage since 1936, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.
About 77.126 million acres will be sown with soybeans, down 0.1 percent from 77.198 million a year ago, the USDA said today in a report based on a survey of farmers. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey were expecting 78.351 million. Corn acreage will reach 97.282 million, up from 97.155 million last year, the agency said. The average analyst estimate was 97.339 million.
Soybean plantings fell in Minnesota, the third-biggest grower, and in every Great Plains state except North Dakota, offsetting increases in Iowa and Illinois, the two top producers. Prices for corn and soybeans are up this year, making the crops attractive for farmers who hope to replenish stockpiles after drought curbed production last year.
"If you have good yields, corn and beans are the best cash crops," Mike Zuzolo, the president of Global Commodity Analytics & Consulting in Lafayette, Indiana, said in a telephone interview. "The drought fears are being pulled out now as we get more moisture across the U.S."
Corn futures for May delivery fell 0.2 percent at $7.3375 a bushel at 9:25 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade and were up 5.1 percent this year. Soybean futures for May delivery dropped 0.1 percent to $14.5275 on the CBOT. The oilseed has gained 3 percent in 2013.
Total wheat acreage will be 56.44 million, up from 55.736 million last year, the USDA said. The analyst consensus was 56.32 million acres.
Spring-wheat planting will rise to 12.701 million acres from 12.289 last year, while durum acres will total 1.751 million, down from 2.123 million, according to the government. Analysts estimated growers would plant 12.39 million acres of spring wheat and 2.13 million with durum varieties.
Wheat futures for May delivery gained 0.3 percent to $7.3875 a bushel on the CBOT. The price is down 5 percent this year.
--Editors: Daniel Enoch, Patrick McKiernan.
To contact the reporters on this story: Tony C. Dreibus in Chicago at email@example.com