USDA Doesn’t Anticipate Much Deviation from 97 Million Corn Acres

08:45AM Apr 01, 2020
Prospective Plantings
USDA-NASS releases its annual forecast for the spring planting season each March.
( MGN )

The USDA released this year’s Prospective Planting Report Tuesday and it left many farmers and traders scratching their heads. The 2020 planting projections show higher-than-anticipated corn and soybean planting projections, with an expected total of more than 180 million corn and soybean acres.

Here’s a quick review of the numbers:

  • Corn: 97 million acres
  • Soybeans: 83.5 million acres
  • Wheat: 44.7 million acres
  • Cotton: 13.7 million acres

“You know we're basically getting back, at least the intentions are getting back, the acres that we couldn't put in the ground last year,” said Lance Honig, USDA crops branch chief told AgriTalk Host Chip Flory. “And so, what it tells me is that as long as the weather cooperates the plan is to get back to that, what I would call normal level, over the last four or five years.

“I think after last year, folks are just eager to get back out there and get crops back in the ground,” Honig continued.

Corn projections at 97 million acres are 8% higher than the 2019 predictions—or up 7.29 million acres. If soybeans hit the intended 83.5 million acres it’s a 10% increase from last year.

Honig says even with recent changes to ethanol demand and other market changes, USDA stands behind these numbers.

“We started with 80,000 [surveyed] farmers, so we're talking to a huge portion of the population that's actually growing these crops,” he said. “If you look at the previous five years I mean the difference between March and June on corn was less than a million acres on average so you really, you know, unless something drastic happens (something drastic happened last year) but you know I would think unless something drastic happens, it's not going to deviate that far from the 97 million acres at least based on what history is told us.”

Wheat shows a continued decline, with predictions looking 44.7 million acres. This is the lowest prediction since the first time USDA recorded these numbers in 1919.

Survey methodology

In order to get these predictions, USDA surveyed roughly 83,000 farmers the first two weeks of March. This survey gathers farmers opinions on what they intend to plant this year and how many bushels or units of grains they have stored on their operation (this feeds the grain stocks report).

This year’s they received just over a 59% response rate. This is in line with what the USDA received last year and higher than what was turned in a few months ago, according to Honig.

Some wonder if a 59% response rate is high enough to give a confident estimate in this year’s projections but Honig believes that this response rate is an outstanding number.

“Obviously we always want higher, doesn't matter who you are, what you're doing you always want a higher response rate, and certainly that's always the goal but those are still good solid numbers if you look across anybody doing survey work they'll tell you those are outstanding numbers, quite frankly,” Honig said.

Read more here:

Planting Intentions: 97 Million Acres Corn, 83.5 Million Acres Soy

Farm Journal Live: Sorting Through Planting Intentions

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