Corn Acres May Be Limited by Tight Margins

Farm Futures planting intentions survey finds growers changing plans as prices and costs shift.

Published on: Mar 24, 2010

 Squeezed by high costs, lower prices and tightening credit conditions, farmers are planning to plant less corn than previously expected this spring, according to the latest Farm Futures survey.

The magazine's third survey of 2010 intentions found farmers ready to plant 87.3 million acres to corn this spring. While an increase of 1% over 2009, the latest estimate is more than 2 million acres lower than Farm Futures found at the end of 2009.


Soybean planting intentions are also down, but not by nearly as much. Farm Futures estimates farmers are ready to plant 79.4 million acres to soybeans. That's down more than 500,000 from late December, but would still be a record, and up 2.5% from 2009.

Farm Futures' spring wheat seedings estimate is 13 million, close to the last survey results. Total wheat acreage would fall to 52.6 million, down 11% from 2009 due to a huge decrease in winter wheat seedings.

The magazine also surveyed farmers on test weights for the 2009 corn crop – a topic of major concern this year due to increased concerns over quality caused by the stressful growing season. The magazine found test weights down 2.7 pounds to 54.7 pounds per bushel.

Once again the latest Farm Futures surveys shows farmers planting for the market, says Senior Editor Bryce Knorr, who directed the research. "The changes we've tracked in corn acreage closely follow shifts in the ratio of soybean to corn prices, a major variable affecting profitability," says Knorr.


Market Analyst Arlan Suderman says farmers would rather plant corn, all things being equal. "The fact that intentions are declining suggests that economic realities are putting pressure on farmers," says Suderman, noting that this could create more marketing opportunities for the crop down the road. Stocks could also tighten if low test weights increase the number of bushels consumed by livestock feeders and ethanol plants, he says.


USDA releases its Prospective Plantings March 1 Grain Stocks reports on March 31. Knorr and Suderman discuss the Farm Futures survey results in their weekly online video program, The Buzz, available HERE
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Farm Futures surveyed more than 1,050 farmers from March 7 to March 22.


2010 Planting Intentions
(in millions)

Corn

Soybeans

Spring Wheat

All Wheat

March 2010 Survey

     87.30

          79.40

     13.00

     52.60

December 2009 Survey

     89.48

          79.99

     13.02

     53.90

August 2009 Survey

     87.50

          75.00

     13.40

     61.10