Acreage Preview: Chip Flory Talks Corn, Soybeans and Wheat

March 22, 2018 10:44 AM
On March 29, USDA will release its annual Prospective Plantings report. How will acres shake out this year?

On March 29, USDA will release its annual Prospective Plantings report. How will acres shake out this year?

Soybeans are stealing the spotlight ahead of USDA’s report, says Chip Flory, host of AgriTalk and
AgriTalk After the Bell.

High soybean prices aren’t necessarily attracting acres, Flory says, it’s more due to the financial conditions of the agricultural community.

“Cash flow is tight,” says Flory, also the Farm Journal economist. “We’ve worked through our working capital. We’ve drained the reserves. We’re looking for the cheaper of the two choices in the Midwest to plant. That would be soybeans.”

Listen to Flory’s predictions for soybean acres:

For 2017, USDA pegged soybeans acres at a record-high 89.5 million acres in its Prospective Plantings report. That was up 7% from 2016.

At its late-February Ag Outlook Forum, USDA predicted 2018 corn and soybean acres will match—with 90 million dedicated to each crop.

North Dakota and southern states could show the biggest crop shifts, Flory says.

“North Dakota has consistently been a major changer when it comes to the acreage mix,” he says. “In the South, soybeans have been in competition very aggressively with cotton. But cotton is probably in line to a 700,000 to 1-million-acre increase—a lot of that will come out of beans.”

In 2017, U.S. farmers planted just over 90 million acres of corn, which was a 4% decline from 2016.

“Because of the price performance of corn, everyone has been talking about a decline in corn acres for 2018,” Flory says. “Those expectations are probably right. How much of a decline? We can’t forget it’s corn. Guys will plant corn if they can plant corn.”

Listen to Flory’s predictions for corn acres:

Keep an eye on acres in the western Corn Belt and the Dakotas, Flory says, as you may see shifts there away from corn. For Iowa and the eastern Corn Belt, he’s not predicting much of a change, due to crop rotations.

In 2017, USDA predicted all wheat acres at 46.1 million in its Prospective Plantings report, a drop of 8% from 2016. Spring wheat acres accounted for 11.3 million.

Positive spring wheat prices should attract spring wheat acres this year, Flory says.

“I would say we’ll see spring wheat acres up 700,000 to even 1 million acres up compared to a year ago,” he says. “If that happens, that will probably be a bit negative on the spring wheat market.”

Listen to Flory’s predictions for wheat acres:

Read more pre-report coverage of the 2018 Prospective Plantings report: 

Acreage Preview: Cotton To Climb

Allendale: Record Soybean Acres in 2018


Listen to AgriTalk After the Bell.

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