U.S. corn plantings seen at highest since 1936

Reuters / U.S. farmers may plant 97.43 million acres of corn this year, up 0.3 per cent from last year, which would be the largest corn area since 1936, according to a Farm Futures magazine survey.

The survey of 1,750 U.S. growers also showed farmers intend to plant a record 79.09 million acres of soybeans, up 2.5 per cent from last year. That estimate is lower than the forecast also released March 21 from crop forecaster Lanworth, which expects U.S. farmers to plant a record 81.3 million acres of soybeans this spring.

Lanworth, which is owned by Reuters News Agency, cited crop rotation practices, flat corn profitability and a return to normal spring weather as the reasons for the increased soybean acreage. Lanworth also said it expects U.S. corn acreage of 96.5 million acres, down one per cent from a year earlier.

However, forecasters also warned acreage allocations could change significantly before seeding is over.

“With stocks of both corn and soybeans projected near historic lows, strong acreage this spring is a must to rebuild inventories,” Farm Futures senior editor Bryce Knorr, who conducted the research, said in a statement.

“Spring weather could still change these numbers significantly and prices will be important, too,” he said.

“Some 18 per cent of those surveyed said they could still shift 50 per cent or more of their acres,” he said.

Some of the increased corn and soybean area could be on land that had previously been sown to wheat, Farm Futures said.

The Farm Futures survey found growers may plant 11.91 million acres of spring wheat, down three per cent from 2012 and durum 2.06 million, down 2.8 per cent. The survey also suggests abandonment of hard red winter wheat acres could be as much as 1.35 million more than usual due to poor conditions last fall.

The survey showed total wheat seedings at 56.12 million, down one million from earlier surveys.

All winter wheat seedings were pegged in the survey at 42.15 million, up two per cent from last year; white winter wheat at 3.54 million, up 5.8 per cent; hard red winter wheat at 29.1 million, down 2.5 per cent; and soft red winter wheat at 9.51 million, up 17.2 per cent.

For South America, Lanworth raised its estimate of Argentine corn production to 25.5 million tonnes from 24.9 million and upped its Argentine soybean production view to 50.5 million tonnes from 49.4 million.

Lanworth boosted its forecast for Brazil soybean production to 81.1 million tonnes from 80.8 million but trimmed its corn harvest estimate from that country to 76.4 million tonnes from 76.9 million.

Lanworth left its forecast for Russian and Ukrainian wheat production unchanged at 49.8 million tonnes and 23.3 million tonnes, respectively.

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