Corn producers intend to plant 97.3 million acres for all purposes this year, according to Thursday’s USDA Prospective Plantings report. This year’s projection is up slightly from the 97.1 million acres planted last year, and 6% more than in 2011.

At a trend yield of 163.54 bu./acre, corn production this year could be about 14.6 billion bu., according to Todd Davis, American Farm Bureau Federation crops economist.

Producers also plan to plant 77.1 million acres of soybeans, which could also result in record-large production. Though the intention represents slightly fewer acres than last year, using the average yield of 44.4 bu./acre projected by USDA in February, Davis explains total production could be 3.38 billion bu.

"If these early planting and yield projections are realized, corn and soybeans stocks will increase, which would ultimately lead to lower feed costs for livestock and poultry farmers," Davis says.

Corn stocks in all positions on March 1 totaled 5.40 billion bu., according to Thursday’s USDA quarterly Grain Stocks report. That’s 10% less than the previous March, though it was higher than the average estimate of 5.013 billion bu. heading into the report.

 

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Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1 totaled 999 million bu., 27% less than a year earlier, but also more than the average pre-report estimate of 935 million bu.

“The forecast gives us an indication of what farmers intend to plant as of early March, but between now and fall harvest the influence of still-dry soils, volatile commodity prices and weather uncertainty will play out, which may change what farmers plant,” Davis says.

Drought continues to be the primary monkey in the closet.

“The drought is forecast to ease in the western Corn Belt but will persist in Nebraska and Kansas, intensifying in Texas and Oklahoma,” Davis says. “However, just because the drought may be easing doesn’t guarantee record crop yields in those areas.”

 

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