Planting intentions show biggest corn crop since 1937
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 04/25/2012 9:33 PM
WASHINGTON — Driven by favorable prices, U.S. farmers intend to plant 95.9 million acres of corn in 2012, up 4 percent from 2011, according to the Prospective Plantings report released March 30 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service.
If realized, this will be the largest corn acreage in the United States since 1937, when producers planted 97.2 million acres of corn.
Producers across many Corn Belt states are expected to set new record highs in 2012. Farmers in Iowa, the top U.S. corn-growing state, intend to set a new record by planting 14.6 million acres, up 4 percent from 2011.
Farmers in Minnesota also are planning for a record by planting 8.7 million acres, an increase of 7 percent. Growers in Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota also say they intend to plant record-high acreages. The largest year-over-year increase is expected in North Dakota, where farmers are recovering from last year's floods and declared their intentions to plant 3.4 million acres of corn, up 52 percent from last year.
The corn acreage increase, coupled with weather conditions in the Southern Plains resulted in a soybean acreage decrease. U.S. soybean growers intend to plant 73.9 million acres in 2012, down 1 percent from last year.
Affected by the drought conditions that have continued from last year into early March, Texas and Oklahoma farmers plan significant reductions in soybean acreage, expecting to dedicate 24 percent and 15 percent fewer acres respectively to the crop this year. These decreases are offset by acreage increase in other states, such as New York and North Dakota, where farmers are expected to set new records.
In Minnesota soybean intentions are 6.9 million acres, down 3 percent from 2011. In Iowa, farmers are planning to plant 8.8 million acres of soybeans, down 6 percent from 2011.
Also affected by difficult weather conditions, U.S. cotton growers expect to plant fewer acres in 2012. The expected cotton area this year is 13.2 million acres, down 11 percent from last year. Heavy precipitation in the Delta Region has already delayed fieldwork in some areas.
All wheat planted area is estimated at 55.9 million acres, up 3 percent from 2011. Minnesota farmers intend to plant 1.46 million acres of wheat in 2012, 8 percent less in 2011.
Friday's USDA reports showed acreage shifts outside the bounds of pre-trade expectations, but stock levels that were close to expectations, said Chad Hart, Iowa State University grain marketing economist.
"For acreage, corn was well above expectations while soybeans and wheat were below," Hart said. "Wheat is still gaining ground, but compared to the pre-trade estimate, wheat lost just over 1.5 million acres."
"Today's report is the first official indication that U.S. producers are responding to the market signals to expand their corn production area," said Iowa Corn Promotion Board chairman Deb Keller, a Clarion farmer.
"We may see a shift to more bean acres as this report will improve the corn/soybean ratio," said Iowa Soybean Association President Dean Coleman. "We will need more soybean acres, considering the drought in South America and the need to have the bushels available for our domestic and foreign partners."
Prospective Plantings provides the first official, survey based estimates of U.S. farmers' 2012 planting intentions. NASS acreage estimates are based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of more than 84,500 farm operators across the United States. Prospective Plantings and all NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov.