At the USDA’s 93rd annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, the agency rolled out its predictions for the year ahead.
In 2017, the USDA is forecasting 90 million acres of corn, down 4 million acres from 2016. Farmers should expect to see average prices per bushel to be roughly $3.50.
Soybean acreage is increasing with plantings of 88 million acres, an increase of 4.6 million acres. Prices are forecast to average $9.60 per bushel.
Wheat acreage for 2017 is estimated at 46 million acres with an average price of $4.30.
When it comes to soybeans and corn, there has been a lot of speculation. Economists say the price ratio for soybeans is projected to be 2.6 times that of corn.
If this holds, it would be the most favorable price spread since 1997.
Analysts say in places like the northern Plains, a lot of these decisions will be determined by the weather.
“If we have a nice, good spring, and if we can get out, I don’t know if corn acres will be down at all in these fringe areas,” said DuWayne Bosse of Bolt Marketing. “On the other side, soybeans need 4 million acres. We’re getting a little complacent with always having these record yields.”
Rice acres are forecasted to be 17 percent lower due to abundant global supplies. Cotton acres were higher than the National Cotton Council (NCC)’s previous prediction of 11 million acres.
USDA is increasing the NCC’s forecast by 500,000 acres. This 14 percent increase is the highest tally since 2012. Cotton prices are believed to average at 65 cents.