AgWeb Survey: Corn Acres Rise, Soybeans Fall

11:04AM Mar 25, 2011
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In a year when it is apparent we will need to produce every bushel of corn from every acre possible to deal with a tight supply situation, it appears farmers are stepping up. The question is if it's enough.

Farm Journal Media conducted a survey March 18-23, 2011, of U.S. corn and soybean growers to judge their 2011 planting intentions. The respondents indicate U.S. corn acreage this year will increase 3.37% to 91.16 million acres. U.S. soybean acreage is anticipated to drop 3.46% to 74.73 million acres.
If a trendline yield of 163 bu./acre is realized on 91.16 million arces, that will result in a total crop of 13.67 billion bu., assuming the historical figure that 92% of those acres are harvested. Last year the U.S. soybean yield was 43.5 bu./acre. If that yield is realized this year, it will result in a total crop of 3.22 bill. bu., assuming a 1% loss at harvest. 
Most of the acreage increases for corn are anticipated to come from the 18 major corn-producing states that represented 92% of the U.S. corn crop in 2009.
While it appears corn acreage should increase nearly 3 million acres, there are still questions about the final acreage numbers. Among the indicators are:
  • 24% of the respondents indicate they are leaving their final acreage decisions open until it is time to start planting.
  • While many farmers are leaving their decisions open, 56% of all respondents say crop rotation remains the driver for determining acreage.
  • 55% say their acreage is set and it will not change. 
  • If farmers choose to switch their acreage this year, commodity price is the most important determining factor.
  • The break-even for a large number of growers to shift to more acreage is:
- December corn at $7.01/bu., (7.5% of the respondents), with it increasing about that much at $7.51 and $8.00
- November soybeans at $14.50
- December cotton at $150/cwt., but a very small number compared to corn and soybeans.
  • If corn acres increase, the increase will mostly come from planned soybean acreage.
  • If soybean acreage increases, it will come largely from planned corn acres.
  • Cotton producers indicate they will plant more cotton at the expense of corn.
  • Farmers in the Dakotas plan to increase their acreage for both corn and soybeans, but they are concerned about the amount of snow cover and extremely wet soil conditions. Timeliness of planting could be a major issue there. 
  • If corn or soybean prices rise to the level where farmers want to increase acreage, the anecdotal comments suggest they are willing to forgo hay production in some areas.
USDA will release its Prospective Planting report on March 31 at 7:30 a.m. CST. AgWeb will have complete coverage and analysis on that report.