New Acreage Survey Projects Highest Corn Plantings Since 1946

Soybeans and spring wheat should lose ground in 2007 thanks to $4 corn prices, according to new survey conducted by Farm Futures magazine.

Published on: Mar 13, 2007

The latest survey of producer planting intentions by Farm Futures magazine confirms U.S. corn growers will try to plant the largest crop in recent memory this spring, fueled by the ethanol boom and record new crop futures prices.

Farm Futures estimates corn plantings at 88.4 million acres, up 13% from last year, based on a survey of more than 850 farmers from March 5 to March 12. That's unchanged from the magazine's last tally, in January. USDA releases its definitive survey of planting intentions on March 30.

The massive shift to corn will come at the expense of soybeans and spring wheat, according to the magazine. Survey results showed farmers plan to put in 68.9 million acres of soybeans, down 9% from last year, and a drop of 600,000 acres from the January estimates. Spring wheat plantings are estimated at 12.7 million acres, a 15% crop from last year. No estimate was made for spring wheat in January. The magazine forecasts total wheat acreage at 58.8 million acres, up from 57.3 million in 2006.

"The rally to new contract highs for December corn futures in February came at just the right time, when producers finalized planting decisions," says Senior Editor Bryce Knorr, who directed the survey. "The rally also increased the guaranteed price for revenue-based crop insurance products, which gives farmers a strong incentive to plant corn, despite high input costs."

While farmer planting intentions are not locked in stone, most producers are unlikely to change their plans now, unless adverse weather conditions intervene. Some 85% of the farmers surveyed said they are unlikely to make changes, while only 3% were very likely to make further shifts.

"This big increase in corn plantings could produce a record crop of more than 12.3 billion bushels, with normal growing conditions," says Farm Futures Market Analyst Arlan Suderman. "But planting all those acres won't be an easy chore, and that should keep the market sensitive to weather even before the tractors start to roll this spring.

"The big drop in soybean plantings should help support the bean market, where old crop stocks are more than adequate. But corn planting delays could increase bean acreage, increasing volatility even more."

The magazine surveyed 859 farmers from across the U.S. by email. Farm Futures survey of corn intentions for 2006 proved the most accurate of those released prior to USDA's March 31, 2006 prospective plantings report.

 

Official Farm Futures acreage

estimates

Change from 2006 final

% Change

January Farm Futures estimate

Sept. 2006 Farm Futures estimate

 

(acres in millions)

Corn

       88.40

10.10

13%

     88.40

 85-86.6

Soybeans

       68.91

(6.59)

-9%

     69.50

     72.20

Spring wheat

       12.70

(2.20)

-15%

 --

 --

Total wheat

       58.79

1.49

3%

 --

     60.00

Source: March 5-12 Farm Futures survey.