Experts Not Sure Where Extra Acres Will Go

Corn may not pick up as many acres as first believed.

Published on: Feb 15, 2010

The theory after the January crop report was that there could still be six million acres of cropland that could go wither into corn or soybeans. Logically, it might go into both. Part of this was land that would have been seeded to wheat, but which wasn't due to the wet, cool, drawn out fall. There just wasn't a big window for planting wet. The rest of it is primarily thought to be land that could roll out of the Conservation Reserve program. Once land ahs been in the program for 10 or 15 years, whichever it was signed up for originally, it 'rolls out.' Sometimes it can be enrolled. Other times the landowner may choose to let it stay out of the program and convert it back to cropland, either by plowing or through no-till farming.

 

Other analysts are looking at three to four million additional acres that will show up in later crop reports. However, Rich Morrison, Jacksonville, Ill., with Diversified Services, doesn't feel the increase in acreage will wind up that high when final estimates are tallied later on by the National Ag Statistics Reporting Service, an arm of USDA.

 

His guess is more like a million acres, he notes. When he runs the numbers, he comes out with a crop around 13 billion bushels of corn for the 2010 season, he told a farmers' group recently. If that's true, corn price for the year (2010 crop) could wind up in the $3.50 to $4 per bushel range, he says.

 

Suppose more acres do wind up planted than he anticipates. First of all, it would probably require a perfect spring for that to happen. Very little tillage and field prep was done last fall due to a wet, late autumn season. If it does, there's the potential to produce a bigger crop nationwide, he notes.

 

Part of the secret, however, will be trend yield. If you use 160 bushels per acre you get total production like many anticipate for the 2010 crop season. However, there is no guarantee that next year will bring an average trend year. If the average yield is lower, then it could produce a smaller overall corn crop nationwide than expected.

 

The actual planted acreage of both corn and soybeans will be important factors to watch as the spring and summer unfold, he notes.