The start of what will surely be a number of estimates on planting intentions were released last week, and it shows the ethanol-driven euphoria in corn country is at full throttle.

USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins foresees corn acres increasing 8.7 million acres to 87 million acres for 2007, what he calls, "the highest corn plantings in 60 years." Given that estimate, USDA anticipates a record corn crop this year of 12.2 billion bu.

But with ethanol demand for corn expected to jump 50% this year, stocks will continue to dwindle. The higher demand for corn should lead to an expected average corn price this year of $3.60/bu. Collins says the bump in corn acres will come at the expense of soybeans and cotton.

In another estimate, Allendale, Inc. projects the 2007-08 corn acreage will hit 90.760 acres, up 12.43% from last year.

"Corn-planting intentions of 90.760 million acres would be the largest since 1944, when 95.475 million acres were planted. Peak planted acres of 113.024 million occurred in 1932," Allendale says. Using their figures of 152.5 bu./acre yield, a record corn production of 12.570 billion bu. may be in the offing.

Some of those corn acres will come at the expense of soybeans. Soybean planting intentions of 65.927 million acres is down 9.595% from last year. Soybean planting intentions represent the lowest since 1996, when 64.196 million acres were planted, Allendale says. Wheat acres should see a slight bump of 3.149%, if growers plant the 60.493 million acres that Allendale projects. That would be the largest since 2003, when 62.141 million acres were planted.
-- Burt Rutherford