By Greg Vincent
Corn looks to be mounting a major comeback for 2010. After reaching a high of 93 million acres in 2007, it dropped significantly the following year. It did make a modest rebound in 2009. But nothing like we may see this year.
According to an exclusive survey of more than 500 Top Producer and AgWeb readers in early January, corn acres could jump as much as 3% this year to nearly 89 million acres. Soybeans and cotton also look to make a significant jump.
The Factors. Contributing to this upsurge is the expiration and nonrenewal of 1.8 million acres of Conservation Reserve Program ground, which will likely go mostly to soybeans, says Jerry Gulke, president of the Gulke Group. The big jump is coming from poor weather conditions this past fall. For corn, soybeans and cotton, 9.4% to 10.7% of respondents said they would get more acres by planting less wheat, reversing the trend shown in our September survey.
"There are 6 million fewer winter wheat acres planted this year compared to last year,” Gulke says. "Across Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, it was wet this past fall and a lot of acres didn't get planted to wheat. You can grow corn in those areas, and they are all in a corn deficit.”
Prices were also on the decline during the last survey, Gulke says, which likely contributed to the attitude that there would be fewer corn acres in 2010.
Anticipated 2010 Acres (in thousands)
Crop USDA 2009 Anticipated '10 Acreage % (+ or –)
Corn 86,482 88,933   2.88%
Soybeans 77,451 77,931 0.62%
Cotton 9,149 10,121 10.63%
The Jan. 12, 2010, Winter Wheat Seedings report shows a 14% drop in wheat acres compared to 2009.
Some analysts predict 2010 corn acreage as high as the record 93 million. "I expect us to hit 89 million. It could go to 90 million, but I don't think we'll get over that because a lot of fall tillage didn't get done in the Upper Midwest. The CRP acres aren't suitable for corn the first year out, so they'll probably go to soybeans,” Gulke says.
Gulke thinks the survey numbers are a little too low for where soybean acres will actually settle. He pegs soybean acres at 79 million for 2010, versus the 78 million in the survey, but says he hasn't completed his annual planting intentions survey.
King Cotton. Cotton acres should again top 10 million, according to the survey. The recent rebound in cotton prices and the relatively lower price for corn and soybeans will cause producers to come back to the crop. "Gins are sitting idle in the South, and people want to see them being used,” Gulke says.