Farmers in the U.S. intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn this year, the most since 1936, according to USDA's Prospective Plantings report released last week. Growers are looking to take advantage of high prices brought on by last year's drought. The survey results, released March 28, show planting intentions up slightly from the 97.2 million acres planted in 2012. The survey results also show a shift in where corn is being grown.
In some states hit hardest by last year's drought corn acreage is forecast down slightly for 2013, while southern states such as Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas are shifting cotton acres to corn. Chad Hart, Extension grain marketing economist at Iowa State University, cites Texas as an example. That state is shifting more than 1 million acres normally planted to cotton, to corn in 2013. Livestock feeders in Texas are in desperate need for grain after two years of drought, notes Hart.
Iowa farmers holding steady with corn planting intentions for 2013 crop year
In Iowa, the nation's leading corn producer, the survey shows farmers intend to plant an estimated 14.2 million acres to corn, same as last year. Minnesota corn acreage intentions are up 3% to 9 million acres. Record corn acreage is expected in Minnesota, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, North Dakota and Oregon. However, the states that suffered significantly during last year's drought (the worst since the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s) expect to plant slightly less corn. In Illinois, acres intended for corn are down 5% to 12.2 million and Nebraska corn acres are down 1% at 9.9 million acres.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Keep in mind that historically, the late March USDA report is an "intentions" survey and could shift as much as 15% as planting season rolls along. USDA's annual Acreage Report, to be released June 28, will have final estimates of crop plantings for 2013.
"On our farm we're sticking with a 50-50 rotation of corn and soybeans," says Kevin Rempp, who farms near Montezuma and is chairman of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. "This USDA report serves as an early yardstick to what kind of production might occur. How much moisture is available and the weather outlook at planting time will determine what gets planted on the so-called swing acres."
Iowa farmers intend to plant slightly more soybeans, up 1%, than they did last year
Iowa farmers intend to plant 9.4 million acres of soybeans in 2013. That's 50,000 more acres than last year. Nationally, soybean acres are projected at 77.1 million acres, lower than some analysts expect. If realized, this year's U.S. soybean acreage would be the fourth highest ever. Last year farmers planted 77.2 million acres of soybeans nationwide.
Compared to last year soybean acres are down across all of the Great Plains, with the exception of North Dakota, as drought conditions have persisted. However, increases in planted acres across most of the eastern Corn Belt and parts of the Southeastern U.S. nearly balance out the decline in the Great Plains. While Iowa soybean acres are expected to rise 1% to 9.4 million acres in 2013, Illinois is up 4% to 9.4 million. Nebraska is expected to see soybean acres decline about 6% to 4.7 million this year.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Spring weather now becomes the focal point, says Hart. The market's attention will focus very quickly on planting weather and thoughts of yield prospects; what kind of summer will we have? The U.S. Drought Monitor's weekly report on March 28 showed that roughly half of the continental U.S. remains in some form of drought, with the most pronounced dryness lingering in the key farm states in the western Corn Belt, including Iowa. Some 96% of Nebraska is gripped by extreme or exceptional drought (the two worst classifications) as is one-fifth of Iowa and two-thirds of Kansas. Currently, three-quarters of Iowa is classified as being in "moderate to exceptional" drought.
Drought continues a tight grip on western Iowa, in particular northwest Iowa, and the Great Plains states
Iowa Soybean Association leaders are optimistic more beans will be planted than the March 28 USDA Prospective Plantings report indicates. Farmers often make adjustments based on agronomic, economic and weather conditions. Also, farmers are recognizing continuous corn is creating significant issues, including pest resistance.
Brian Kemp, ISA president-elect, farms near Sibley in northwest Iowa. "My plans will not deviate from what they were previous to the report. Osceola County is one of the driest in the state for subsoil moisture," he says. "A combination of soil moisture and previous cropping history and crop rotation benefits weigh heavily in this decision. I prefer to spread my risk between corn and soybean crops as my current intentions do."
ISA president Mark Jackson raises crops and livestock near Rose Hill in southeast Iowa. The report won't change his plans. "My planting plans are somewhat dictated by me being a no-till farmer," he says. Manure is used on ground going to corn, which improves the soil's health in a corn-soybean rotation. "Also, there's weed and insect pressure to consider. A corn-bean rotation benefits our efforts to lessen development of pest resistance."