On March 31, 2011, USDA released its Prospective Plantings and Quarterly Grain Stocks reports. These were very highly anticipated reports, due to the uncertainty in grain prices in recent months, as well as with the tight USDA estimated grain stocks that existed on March 1.Typically, these late March reports are very critical to farm operators and grain traders because these reports tend to have a high impact on grain market prices in the spring and early summer. This is the time of the year when many farm operators try to sell remaining grain inventories from the previous growing season, as well as look for opportunities to forward price a portion of the anticipated crop for the current year. In a majority of years, corn and soybean prices usually reach their peak price in the spring months, from April until June.
Following are key items from the March 31 reports
Corn – Indicated intended corn planting acres of just over 92.2 million acres for 2011, which is up 5% from the 88.2 million planted acres in 2010, and up 7% from 86.5 million acres in 2009, but is still below the 93.6 million acres planted in 2007. The corn stocks on March 1, 2011, were listed at 6.52 billion bushels, which compares to 7.69 billion bushels on March 1, 2010, and 6.95 billion bushels in 2009.
Soybeans – Indicated intended soybean planting acres of 76.6 million acres in 2011, which is down slightly from the 77.4 million acres of soybeans in 2010, and from the 77.5 million acres planted in 2009. Soybean stocks on March 1, 2011, were listed at 1.25 billion bushels, which is similar to the 1.27 billion bushels of soybean stocks on March 1, 2010, and slightly lower than the1.30 billion bushels on March 1, 2009.
Wheat – Indicated intended total wheat plantings for 2011 of 58.0 million acres, which is up 8% from 53.6 million acres in 2010, but below the 59.1 million acres of wheat planted in 2009. The wheat stocks on March 1, 2011, were listed at 1.42 billion bushels, which is up slightly from the 1.36 billion bushels of wheat on March 1, 2010.
Cotton – Indicated intended cotton plantings of 12.6 million acres for 2011, compared to 10.9 million acres in 2010, and 9.1 million acres of cotton planted in 2009.
The state-by-state Prospective Plantings Report for 2011 is also rather interesting. In Minnesota, growers are expected to plant 7.9 million acres of corn in 2011, which is up about 2% from the 7.7 million acres planted in 2010, and higher than the 7.6 million acres planted in 2009. Minnesota farmers are expected to plant 7.4 million acres of soybeans in 2011, which is the same as 2010, and is slightly higher than the 7.2 million soybean acres in 2009. Prospective plantings for 2011 in Iowa indicated 13.9 million acres of corn in 2011, up 4% compared to 2010; planted soybean acreage is estimated at 9.4 million acres in 2011, as compared to 9.8 million acres in 2010.
Prospective crop acres for 2011 in Illinois and Indiana showed slight increases in corn acreage and similar soybean acreage, as compared to 2010 acreage, while Nebraska is planning a 4% increase in corn acres and 2% decline in soybean acreage in 2011, compared to a year earlier. Some states expected to have the largest percentage increase in corn acreage in 2011 are Texas, North and South Dakota, as well as some southern states. There are no significant planned increases in soybean acreage in 2011 in major soybean-producing states
The March 31 reports for 2011 soybean and cotton acreage were slightly below the acreage estimates released by most private grain marketing analysts, while USDA corn and wheat acreage estimates were slightly higher than the estimates released by the private analysts. Many analysts feel that there are still a lot of undecided corn and soybean acres in the Upper Midwest, depending on weather and price movements in the next few weeks. It will be interesting to see if the current price rally in the corn market has any impact on spring planting decisions. However, we are not likely to see major shifts in 2011 corn and soybean acreage in southern and western Minnesota in the coming weeks, as most farmers have already locked-in their seed, fertilizer and chemical needs for the 2011 crop season several months ago.
The March 31 Grain Stocks Report indicated that as of March 1, there were just fewer than 3.4 billion bushels of corn and 505 million bushels of soybeans stored on farms in the U.S. This compares to just over 4.5 billion bushels of corn and 609 million bushels of soybeans in on-farm storage on March 1, 2010. According to the report, there were 600 million bushels of corn and 89 million bushels of soybeans in on-farm storage in Minnesota on March 1, 2011, compared to 670 million bushels of corn and 88 million bushels of soybeans on March 1, 2010.
USDA does not survey the percentage of the bushels in on-farm storage that are forward priced for future delivery, as compared to bushels that are not priced. However, many private analysts feel that a much higher percentage of the corn and soybean bushels still in storage on March 1, 2011, may be forward priced, as compared to a year earlier. The large amount of corn and soybean bushels in on-farm storage that is likely already forward priced, makes the grain market trends in the next few months much more critical for the 2011 new-crop corn and soybeans than for remaining 2010 grain.
Grow Rural Education program
American Farmers Grow Rural Education is a new program, sponsored by Monsanto, which is designed to encourage farmers to nominate their local public school district for merit-based grants up to $25,000.00 in the areas of science and mathematics. In 2011, the Minnesota and Illinois were chosen to pilot the new program to enhance educational efforts in public school districts. One grant will be awarded in each major agricultural crop reporting district in each state, including seven crop reporting districts in Minnesota. Any farmer in an eligible county can nominate an eligible school district for these competitive grants. Once a school district has been nominated, the school administration will be contacted to complete a grant form. Final grant selection will be determined on merit and need for the educational program, as well as by the demonstrated community support, based on the number of nominations received from farmers for a particular school district. So, it is important to have numerous farmers submit grant nominations for a school district.
For more information about the grant, or to nominate a public school district for the American Farmers Grow Rural Education grant program, call 1-877-267-3332 or visit the website. Agricultural supply companies also have nomination information available.
Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.