Everyone has a different opinion about how many acres of corn and soybeans were planted this spring--and how many of them will survive some of the wettest months on record—as the USDA prepares to release its acreage numbers on June 30.
Corn: 89.3 Million Acres Forecasted by Trade
Analysts at Allendale, for example, announced last week that they expect to see a big surge in corn acreage, with planted acreage jumping more than 2.5 million acres from the USDA’s March estimate of 89.2 million to an aggressive 91.742 million acres of corn.
Their counterparts at Roach Ag Marketing fall on the other side of the acreage spectrum, forecasting that farmers planted 88.1 million acres of corn.
“Similar to last year, we do think the trend in planted corn acres will be smaller as a persistently wet spring pushed troubled areas beyond final plant dates and with a lower crop insurance guarantee for beans, growers elected to take Prevent Plant or gamble on beans,” John Roach explained in a corporate email highlighting the results of Roach Ag’s survey. “Different than last year is how low insurance guarantees have fallen and therefore we do not see corn acres growing significantly in any state.”
The trade average for corn acreage is 89.292 million acres, according to Reuters' survey of analysts.
Soybeans: 85.1 Million Acres Expected by Trade
Estimates vary—although not as dramatically—for soybean acres. While many in the trade thought the USDA’s March intentions number was inexplicably low at 84.6 million acres, analysts and marketers now suspect that heavy spring rains may bring planted acreage much closer to that figure than they expected. The average trade guess is 85.1 million acres of soybeans, with a high estimate of 86.8 million acres coming from Informa Economics.
“The soybean acres (are) not as big as what we thought at one time,” admitted Don Roose of U.S. Commodities, speaking on U.S. Farm Report on Saturday. “At one time, we thought we could be up 2.5 million acres. (Now) we think (we’re) up about a million acres. We think what the market is really doing is sending a signal to the producers to plant soybeans with the price.”
Listen to Saturday's acreage discussion on U.S. Farm Report:
Weather Frustrates Farmers
No wonder farmers—many unable to plant due to record rains in May and June—sound so frustrated.
“Pretty good guess that a lot of bean fields are not going to get planted,” a farmer in St. Clair County, Ill., told AgWeb’s Crop Comments section. “From what I have been reading, we are not the only area where this is the case. Looks like the traders are finally waking up to this fact, as markets are finally moving up a bit, but if you have no crop to sell, what good is it?”
The evolving weather situation has presented challenges to farmers, analysts, and USDA staffers alike, all of whom are looking for the most accurate acreage figures in this ever-changing commodity marketing year.
“Tuesday’s Planted Acreage and Quarterly Stocks report will shake the markets as USDA will not make adjustments for acres lost to flooding,” Allendale’s Paul Georgy warned on Monday.
Part of the reason is timing.
“The cutoff date for this crop report was the 15th of June,” noted Doug Werling of Bower Trading on U.S. Farm Report. “They’re going to have a pretty good idea that there’s obviously some delays there (in soybean planting), but … I think there are 3.6 million acres that is behind average at this point and needs to go in. Missouri alone accounts for 2.1 million acres of that, and there’s rain in the forecast, so they’re going to have a tough time.”
Depending on how things progress, USDA could even decide to resurvey growers again, to ensure the planted acreage number accounts for these types of post-survey weather events.
While Mother Nature may be blamed this year for lowering planted soybean acreage, she could also be credited for boosting corn acres, thanks to accommodating weather earlier this spring. “As long as I’ve been doing this, it seems like when you get a good start, you always get more corn put in the ground by the U.S. producer, no matter what,” Werling said.
The weather situation and the potential impact on acreage and yield is also coloring the market’s approach to USDA’s quarterly grain stocks report, which will also be released Tuesday, June 30.
On the soybean side, strong demand has continued, pushing July futures prices to $10.025 on Monday as the trade looks for an average of 670 million bushels of soybeans for the June 1 stocks report.
“Demand for soymeal remains unseasonably strong on the export market, thus far more than offsetting the impact of a significant drop in DDGS prices. Export demand remains unseasonably strong as well, even with China absent from the market,” explained Arlan Suderman, a senior market analyst at Water Street Solutions in Peoria, Ill. “The combination continues to suggest that old-crop stocks will drop below 300 million bushels. We won’t run out of soybeans ahead of the harvest, but that has a psychological impact on the market at these prices.”
Prices have also climbed for corn, breaking the $4.04 mark for December futures this week. But that rally may be short-lived. With the average trade guess for domestic corn stocks hovering around 4.555 billion bushels of corn, farmers—and the grain markets—are looking at historically high supplies of corn.
AgWeb will have complete coverage of the June 30 reports, beginning with their release at 11 a.m. Central.
What did you decide to plant this year? How do your crops look? Leave us a note in the comments with your expectations for the June 30 report.