Producers Stick with Corn, Drop Cotton

July 1, 2013 02:56 AM
Producers Stick with Corn, Drop Cotton

Cotton acres fell 17% from last year's crop.

Producers held fairly close to their planting intentions this spring except for in the South and Southwest where they seeded 850,000 fewer acres to cotton, down an amazing 17% from last year’s reduced crop, according to USDA’s much-anticipated Acreage report, released June 28.

"Instead of reducing corn plantings by a significant amount, USDA actually raised acreage. I don't’ know if anyone is going to believe it at the end of the day, but for now it is the number we have to deal with," says Scoville, vice president for the Price Futures Group, Chicago. He was the commentator on a post-report MGEX press call.

Looking at corn first, producers planted 97.4 million acres, up slightly from last year and the highest planted acreage since 1936’s 102 million acres. Growers expect to harvest 89.1 million acres of corn for grain, a 2% increase from last year. The planting estimate came in well above the average trade expectation of 95.3 million acres.

Using an average yield estimate of 153 bu. per acre and estimated planted corn acreage means 2013 production could reach 13.6 billion bushels. "That’s more than enough to keep the market well supplied," says Scoville.

Record-High Soybean Plantings

As producers kept acres in corn, the expected shift to soybeans did not occur. According to the Acreage report, U.S. producers planted a record-high 77.7 million acres of soybeans, up 1%  from last year. The average trade guess for U.S. acres planted to beans was slightly higher at 77.9 million acres. New York, Pennsylvania and South Dakota all posted record-high planted acreage.

Scoville notes that soybean production could be close to 3.3 billion bushels this year.

"There’s a lot of supply coming this summer, and we have a lot of competition out there."

Wheat Close to Expectations

Planted acres for all varieties of wheat rose 1% above year-earlier levels to 56.5 million acres. Winter wheat acres of 42.7 million were 3% above last year. Of this total, about 29.4 million acres were planted to hard red winter wheat, 9.96 million to soft red winter wheat, and 3.38 million acres to white winter wheat.

Acres planted to spring wheat are estimated at 12.3 million acres, up slightly from 2012. Most of the acres, about 11.7 were planted to hard red spring wheat. Durum wheat plantings, however, fell 28% below a year ago to 1.54 million acres.

Wheat plantings dropped in the northern Corn Belt due this year’s extended and wet, cold spring, which makes sense, says Scoville. "But people are scratching their heads asking why that didn’t happen to corn."

He estimates that the estimated planted acres along with an average yield of about 45 bu. per acre would produce 5.4 billion bushels of wheat, in line with expectations.


Growers planted only 10.3 million acres of cotton this spring, a 17% decline from 2012. Only two of the top-17 cotton-producing states planted more cotton than last year. Georgia growers increased cotton acres by 10,000, and Florida producers planted 17,000 more acres than last year. The biggest hit, of course, was in Texas, where producers cut cotton acres by 850,000 acres, a 13% decline.

"We need to keep an eye on our competition," says Scoville. "Our prices are above the world competition on corn, wheat, and beans."


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