Farmers expect to plant far more corn this spring than predicted by the trade, as shown by USDA’s Prospective Plantings report released Thursday.
According to the report, growers say they’ll plant 93.6 million acres of corn in 2016.
The trade was closer on their estimates for the quarterly grain stocks reports.
Here are some of the key numbers released by USDA on Thursday.
- Corn: 93.6 million acres, which is significantly above the average trade guess of 89.972 million and represents the most acres planted since 2013.
- Soybeans: 82.2 million acres, which is less than 1% below 2015 and fewer acres than the average trade estimate of 83.057 million acres.
- Wheat: 11.3 million acres of spring wheat, which is even fewer acres than the trade’s prediction of 12.838 million acres.
- Corn: 7.81 billion bushels, which is roughly what the trade expected in its pre-report average estimate of 7.8 billion bushels.
- Soybeans: 1.53 billion bushels, which is slightly fewer than the average trade guess of 1.556 billion bushels.
- Wheat: 1.37 billion bushels, which is slightly more than the average trade prediction of 1.356 billion bushels.
Traders were taken by surprise by the increase in corn acreage. “The big shock was corn acres. Everyone is in shock. It’s very bad news,” said DuWayne Bosse of Bolt Marketing in Britton, S.D.
With corn at 96.3 million planted acres and a projected yield of 168 bushels per acre, that would mean 2.5 billion bushels of ending stock, according to Bosse. “That’s a whole lot of corn,” he said.
Rich Nelson, chief strategist for Allendale, also described the corn acreage increase as a “shock.”
“We have to clearly expect a strong revision downward in corn prices,” Nelson said. “We might see support in beans and wheat,” he added, reflecting the reports decrease of 5.1 million acres of wheat from last year, and a surprise decrease of 1.5 million acres in spring wheat.
“All the producers for winter wheat come from North Dakota,” noted Nelson, who pointed out the large increase in corn acres in that state. “The reason farmers switched from growing wheat to corn was the potential market,” he said.
Andrew Shissler, a partner at S&W Trading in Downers Grove, Ill., says the larger than expected corn acreage will drive down prices.
“I thought it might be at 91 million. But 93.6 million (acres) just makes it all the worse. That is above 2 billion carryout. If you’re trading, it makes it the worst thing you want to see,” Shissler said.
Shissler noted that the market had reacted at the close of trading Thursday on Chicago’s Board of Trade with corn falling 16.5 cents at $3.50, while soybeans rose ¾ of a cent to 9.975, and wheat was up 8 cents at $4.72.
Societe Generale analyst Christopher Narayanan also observed that intended corn plantings were well above pre-report estimates compared to lower than expected wheat acres.
He attributed that to the higher profitability of corn for many farmers.
In terms of wheat, growers facing large global wheat inventories planted fewer acres of the grain, which less profitable than corn or soybeans right now, according to Narayanan.
The overall drop in winter wheat acreage may also have reduced the amount of soybean acres by slicing the amount of land available for double-crop soybeans, he said.