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Scheduling conflicts prevented me from attending this year, but the 94th Annual USDA Ag Outlook Forum kicked off this morning, which will actually be the first for Ag Secretary Purdue as a year ago had only been nominated but not confirmed. While the two-day forum covers a very wide range of topics in agriculture, for many in the commodity business, the highlight is the statistical acreage and supply/demand estimates that are reported by the Chief Economist. It seems that every year, we need be reminded that these are “statistical” numbers based on economic models and need to be treated as such, but there are always those ready and willing to trade on the figures as fact. Robert Johansson, who is the chief economist, spoke this morning at 9:00 eastern, providing a general economic forecast for ag into next year as well as acreage projections for this coming year. According to their models, US farmers will plant 90 million acres of corn (-.2%), 90 million acres of beans (-.1%) and 46.5 million acres of wheat ( 1.1). They also expect cotton acreage to grow 5.6% or by 700,000 acres but the biggest potential gain will come in other feed grains, which they project will increase 17.8% or by 1.9 million. Tomorrow at 9:15 they will publish the actual grain and oilseed outlook. As a point of reference, trade estimates breakdown as follows; Corn acreage right at 90 million, with a yield of 173.3 and total production of 14.35 billion bushels. Beans acreage is expected to be higher than corn for the first time with an average estimate of 90.64 million acres. The average yield estimate is 48.8 with an average production estimate of 4.367 billion bushels. The average estimate for wheat acreage is 46.23 million with a yield of 46.6 and total production of 1.83 billion. Carryout estimates look for 2.131 billion bushels of corn, 551 million beans, and 933 million wheat.
The weekly export sales report is postponed until tomorrow morning due to the President’s Day Holiday, but it was nice to see sales reported under the daily of 130,000 MT of corn to unknown destinations and 110,000 MT of beans, also to unknown, with the beans sales split equally between this and next crop year.