The wait is over. USDA’s Prospective Plantings report shows producers intend to plant a record number of acres to corn, which comes as no surprise, and intended soybean acreage could be the fourth highest ever. Old-crop stocks of corn, however, were much higher than expected, according to USDA’s quarterly Grain Stocks report, which will weigh on corn prices moving forward.
The biggest surprise in the Prospective Plantings report was the more 450,000-acre increase in spring wheat plantings in North Dakota, says Brian Basting of Advance Trading, Bloomington, Illinois. Basting was the commentator on an MGEX press briefing following the release of the report.
"This year will not be a repeat of last year," says Basting. Last year’s warm, dry spring encouraged one of the fastest planting and early growing seasons on record. " This year looks completely different," he says. "We will see flooding in the northern plains and southern Canada."
Released at noon, EDT, today, the Prospective Plantings report is a snapshot of producers’ intentions as of March 1. Adverse weather that leads to planting delays could shift intended acreage into other crops, primarily soybeans as the season progresses.
Record Corn Acres Expected
Corn producers intend to plant 97.3 million acres, right in line with the average estimate of 97.34 million acres. Additional acres are expected to come from small grains, cotton, pastureland, and the Conservation Reserve Program. If realized, intended corn acreage would be the highest ever. Last year, producers planted 97.16 million acres of corn.
"What was interesting about the Prospective Plantings report is the spread between North and South Dakota," says Chad Hart, agricultural economist with Iowa State University. "North Dakota is pulling in land for both corn and soybeans, setting record acres for both crops. Whereas South Dakota growers intend to pull back on both crops." North Dakota’s hard red spring wheat acreage is projected to be the highest since 2010.
Producers in the western Corn Belt states of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas, where drought is still a concern, switched some acres out of both corn and soybeans and into sorghum, a more drought-tolerant choice.
The biggest surprise in the quarterly Grain Stocks report was that old-crop corn stocks were substantially higher than expected at 5.4 billion bushels, indicating that feed use, exports, and demand from the ethanol sector were all softer than anticipated. The combination of record acres and higher-than anticipated old-crop stocks sparked a selloff in the futures market that sent old-crop corn futures tumbling their 40-cent limit.
Large Wheat and Soybean Crops, As Well
USDA’s Prospective Plantings report also showed that intended plantings of soybeans, if realized, would be the fourth largest ever. According to the report, soybean producers intend to plant 77.1 million acres of beans, at the bottom end of the range of pre-report trade estimates of 77 million to 79.7 million acres and lower than the average trade estimate of 78.4 million acres. Last year, producers planted 77.2 million acres of soybeans.
Projected plantings of all wheat at 56.34 million acres are up substantially from last year’s 55.74 million acres but are just under the average pre-report trade estimate of 56.4 million acres.
March 28 Prospective Plantings, Grain Stocks Reports
See all of the report data, coverage and analysis of USDA's March 28 Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks reports.