U.S. corn growers have yet to harvest their 2006 crop, but they're already thinking about a huge increase in plantings next spring, according to an exclusive survey by Farm Futures Magazine. In fact, if early intentions for 2007 hold, farmers could devote the most acres to corn since before 1950.
Lured by high prices already posted for 2007 corn, farmers say they'd like to plant 85 million or more acres of the crop. USDA says farmers planted 79.4 million acres of corn this year.
Farm Futures surveyed more than 550 growers by e-mail from August 24 to September 14, in the first nationwide attempt to gauge farmer plans for 2007. Farm Futures survey of corn intentions for 2006 proved the most accurate of those released prior to USDA's March 31 prospective plantings report.
According to the magazine's latest survey, farmers said they would like to increase corn acreage by 7% to as much as 9% next spring. That means plantings could reach from 85 million to as high as 86.6 million acres, says Senior Editor Bryce Knorr, who directed the survey.
"Obviously, producers have a long time to change their minds, but this is an indication that farmers are hearing bullish talk for 2007 loud and clear," says Knorr.
Farm Futures Market Analyst Arlan Suderman isn't surprised by the big jump in farmer planting intentions. "While that may seem like a lot of corn, exploding demand for ethanol during the 2007 crop year could require that much additional production to keep stocks from falling dramatically," he said.
Strong wheat prices for 2007 are also likely to encourage farmers to plant more of that crop, according to the Farm Futures survey. Seeding of 2007 winter wheat is already underway in some areas.
The survey indicates total wheat acreage could increase at least 4% for the 2007 crop, rising from 57.9 million to 60 million acres or more.
By contrast, low prices may cause farmers to rethink their traditional rotations and devote fewer acres to soybeans next spring. The survey showed farmers are thinking about planting 4% less ground to soybeans in 2007, cutting around 3 million acres off this year's 74.9 million acres.