USDA Report Highlights
Last week we did a preview and provided a historical perspective relative to the March 31 USDA Prospective Plantings Report and the USDA Quarterly Grain Stocks Report. Now that we have those reports for 2004, it’s interesting to review some of the data. Here are some of the highlights from the report:

  • Soybean acreage in the U.S. for 2004 is expected to rise 3% from 2003 to a record high of 75.4 million acres, which is about 1 million acres higher than anticipated by grain traders prior to the USDA report. Soybean acreage is projected to increase in all states except South Dakota and Wisconsin. One of the largest increases in soybean acreage in the country was in North Dakota, where soybean acreage is expected to increase by 17%, or 550,000 acres. Most of those added acres will be due to reductions in spring wheat acreage for the coming year. Initially, soybean market prices reacted negatively to the report; however, prices were up sharply a couple days after the report.
  • The projected U.S. corn acreage for 2004 is just over 79 million acres, which is slightly higher than the corn acreage in 2003 and 2002. Most grain trade observers were estimating corn acreage above 80 million acres prior to the USDA report. So, the Prospective Plantings Report, combined with a very tight corn supply, has led to a sharp increase in corn prices following the March 31 reports.
  • Total wheat acres in the U.S. are expected to be down 4% for 2004, as compared to a year earlier. Acreage for spring wheat, which is primarily grown in the Upper Midwest, is also expected to decline by 4% this year. Many of the reduced wheat acres are expected to show up as added soybean acres in 2004. This sharp reduction in projected wheat acreage has helped strengthen wheat prices since the March 31 reports.
  • The percentage of soybean acres planted to biotech varieties continues to increase, according to the USDA report. Nationwide, an estimated 86% of the planted soybeans in 2004 will be herbicide resistant varieties. This is an increase of 5%, as compared to 2003, in the soybean acreage planted to biotech varieties. Most of the herbicide resistant varieties are the Roundup Ready-type soybean varieties.
  • The numbers for biotechnology hybrids in corn are not quite as dramatic as soybeans. An estimated 46% of the corn acres nationwide will have some type of biotech genetics. About 30% of the corn acres are the Bt-type hybrids with insect resistance, and about 15-20% of the hybrids are herbicide resistant. Less than 10% of the corn acreage is expected to have the “stacked genes” with both insect and herbicide resistance.

Editors 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 kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.