During the last week of May, Brock Associates conducted an acreage survey of its e-mail subscribers and clients. Farmers from 19 states completing the survey, with a large majority of responses coming from the Midwest.

The sample was large enough to provide statistically valid results for corn and soybeans.

The Brock survey indicates surprisingly low corn plantings compared to USDA's initial estimate released in March. USDA pegged this year's planted corn acreage at 79 million acres, which would be a 4.2% increase from 2001. But based on the Brock acreage survey, there will be a much smaller increase and a 76.9-million-acre total. That would be a modest 1.4% increase from a year earlier.

While producers in the eastern Corn Belt who have been battling wet conditions all spring will find this estimate believable and might even think it's too high, it strikes us as being on the low side. We've been assuming increases in corn plantings in the western Corn Belt will offset much of the shortfall in the east and corn planted acreage would end up close to 78 million acres. However, the "numbers" are the "numbers" and if nothing else this is a strong indication USDA's initial estimate was too high. History will determine how much too high. But if final corn planted acres are only 76.9 million, there is little doubt that corn prices are headed higher.

The findings for soybeans are not a surprise. The Brock survey indicates 72.8 million acres of soybeans will be planted this year. That number is in line with USDA's estimate of 73 million acres. Both estimates are down a little more than 1% from a year ago.

Editors note: Richard Brock, Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.