The corn market is working. Expect record-high corn prices in 2011-12 to drive corn acreage and production to record highs this year.
And look for prices to drop but stay historically strong as domestic feed demand climbs.
Corn growers likely will plant 94 million acres this year, according to estimates presented by Economic Research Service economist Ed Allen at USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum. That figure is in line with what many private analysts have been projecting.
However, analysts don't all agree.
"I think the corn number is high and the bean number is high," says Tim Hannagan, analyst at PFGBest, Chicago. He also thinks index funds and merchants expect this year's corn acreage will not climb as much as USDA projects.
Hannagan says crop rotation is more important to growers than USDA's numbers suggest.
"When you ask them, 'What do you think your most valuable crop is,' the farmers always say, 'That's easy. My land. I take care of the land and it takes care of me.'"