Planned corn acres down for 2014-15

Apr 4, 2014

— Farmers report plans to plant more soybeans

Every year, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) collects surveys from a large number of American farmers and ranchers asking what they plan to plant. This information is collected into the Prospective Plantings report, and the information is invaluable to the markets and subsequent reports.

The most recent Prospective Plantings report, released March 31, showed planting intentions for the 2014/2015 corn crop dropped 4 percent with 91.69 million acres expected to be planted in corn compared to the 2013/2014 crop. Andrew Gottschalk of Hedgers Edge, however, pointed out that “actual corn acres planted has exceeded intentions in 10 of the previous 11 years.”

The losses in corn acres appear to be heading to soybean acres. Anticipated soybean acres look to be up 6 percent to 81.94 million acres.

According to the report itself, these numbers will represent some important historical markers. For instance, if realized, the projected corn acres will be the lowest corn acreage seen since 2010, but also among the top five largest years for corn acres seen since 1944. The soybean acreage projections will be the largest ever with all but two soybean states either maintaining or increasing last year’s soybean acres.

Though many crops are covered in the report, the other major crops of note are winter wheat plantings and general hay harvesting intentions. Total wheat planting intentions declined 1 percent to 55.8 million acres, while winter wheat planting intentions were down 3 percent at 42 million acres. Hay harvest intentions were said to be slightly up at 58.28 million acres, up all of 10,000 acres from 2013.

At least topically, the corn and soybean futures markets reacted favorably to the news. Near-term contracts for corn through December 2014 gained at least 10 cents over the course of Monday following the report’s release, and the immediate near-term soybean contracts of May and July were up over 21 cents on last Monday alone.

But this is just the first benchmarking of the year for the coming domestic crops. The weekly Crop Progress reports will now be published each Monday through the end of November. Attentions will now turn to grain crops abroad; i.e., competition.

“The focus now will be on spring planting progress and crop prospects in other exporting countries,” noted Gottschalk. “Despite concerns regarding the Ukraine they are expected to increase planted acres this spring. Drought conditions there loom as more of a threat to production than financing.”

The next report on these topics will come with the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, which will be released later this week and will be covered in the next issue of WLJ. — Kerry Halladay, WLJ Editor