Corn Acres Seen Highest Since WWII

Driven by surging ethanol production, U.S. farmers intend to plant more than 90 million acres of corn for the first time since the end of World War II, according to the Prospective Plantings Report released by USDA on the morning of March 30.

USDA pegged March 1 U.S. corn planting intentions at 90.45 million acres, near the high end of trade expectations that averaged 88.06 million acres in a range from 86.30-90.67 million acres.

If producers follow through on those intentions, corn acreage would be the highest since 1944 and would be up 15.5% over least year’s final plantings of 78.33 million acres.

Soybean planting intentions were pegged by USDA at 67.14 million acres, toward the low end of trade estimates averaging 69.17 million acres in a range from 65.93-70.80 million acres and down 10.7% from last year’s final plantings estimate of 75.22 million acres.

If soybean planting intentions are accurate, U.S. soybean acreage would be the lowest since 1996.

As expected, USDA reported that spring wheat and cotton planting intentions for 2007 are also down.

Spring wheat acres will not be down quite as much as expected. USDA pegged “other” spring wheat planting intentions at 13.80 million acres, compared with trade expectations averaging 13.68 million acres in a range from 12.5-14.4 million and 2006 seedings of 14.90 million acres.

Durum wheat intentions were put by USDA at 1.99 million acres, compared with trade estimates averaging 1.98 million and last year’s seedings of 1.870 million acres.

On a percentage basis, cotton is expected to lose the most acreage of any of the major crops, with planting intentions down 20.4% from last year’s final acreage of 15.27 million acres.

USDA pegged cotton planting intentions at 12.15 million acres compared with trade estimates averaging 12.3 million acres in a range from 11.8-12.8 million acres.

Editor’s note: Richard Brock, The Corn And 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.