U.S. farmers will plant 182 million acres of corn and soybeans in 2021, the highest combined total for the two crops on record, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecast recently at an annual outlook forum.
Robust demand from exporters as well as domestic users has sent prices for both crops soaring to multi-year highs in recent months. The United States is the world’s top corn exporter and the No. 2 soybean supplier after Brazil.
USDA chief economist Seth Meyer projected U.S. 2021 plantings at 92 million acres for corn, 90 million acres for soybeans, 45 million acres for wheat and 12 million acres for cotton.
The acreage figures assume normal planting weather this spring, Meyer told reporters, adding that weather problems have curbed U.S. seedings in recent years. A return to normal weather, coupled with higher prices, should encourage farmers to expand acreage, he said.
A Reuters poll of analysts estimated that 2021 corn plantings would rise to 92.9 million acres and soybean seedings would total 89.4 million acres.
U.S. soybean stocks are expected to shrink to the smallest in seven years, just before the Northern Hemisphere harvest ramps up in September, leaving just days’ worth of supplies.
The USDA this month projected U.S. soybean imports for the 2020-21 marketing year that ends Aug. 31, 2021, at 35 million bushels, up from 15 million in 2019-20. An increase in soybean plantings this spring could limit such imports despite the tight supplies, Meyer said.
“We often import small amounts of these products. But at 90 million acres (of soybeans), under normal weather, it’s not something that we are going to have to do a lot of,” Meyer said.