On June 30 USDA released its annual Crop Acreage Report, the first official estimate of the number of acres planted to corn, soybeans and other crops in 2011. The data, based on field surveys conducted during early June, updates USDA's March estimates made in its Prospective Plantings report. The March report is based on surveys of farmers who are asked how many acres of each crop they intend to plant. The June survey is based on actual planted acres.
The June 30 USDA report shows nationwide, corn planted acreage in 2011 for all purposes is estimated at 92.3 million acres, up 5% from last year. That's the second highest planted acreage in the U.S. since 1944, behind only the 93.5 million acres planted in 2007. Growers expect to harvest 84.9 million acres of corn for grain in the U.S. this year, up 4% from last year.
At 92.3 million acres, corn planted acreage in the U.S. in 2011 compares to 88.2 million acres last year. And, it is slightly higher than the USDA March 2011 estimate of 92.2 million acres, which was based on planting intentions surveys.
Iowa corn planted acreage in 2011 up 6% from 2010, beans down 6%
In Iowa, corn planted for all purposes is up 6% from 2010, to 14.2 million acres. Corn to be harvested for grain is forecast at 13.8 million acres in Iowa. At 14.2 million acres, the 2011 Iowa corn plantings are higher than USDA's March projection of 13.9 million acres.
Nationally, planted soybean acres are estimated by USDA at 75.2 million acres this year, down 3% from the 77.4 million acres planted in 2010 and down from the March 2011 planting intentions estimate of 76.6 million acres.
Also on June 30, 2011 the USDA Grain Stocks report was released. It shows soybean stocks of 619 million bushels in the U.S. as of early June, up from 571 million bushels a year ago and 27 million bushels above the trade estimate. The grain stocks report is based on USDA surveys that gathered the information around June 1. For corn, the June 30, 2011 report showed corn stocks in all positions in the U.S. at 3.67 billion bushels, down 15% from June 1, 2010.
Iowa's shift to more 2011 corn acres is greater than anticipated
Iowa Soybean Association chief executive officer Kirk Leeds is somewhat surprised at the June 30 report. "Certainly, parts of Iowa have shifted more to planting corn on corn, but the numbers indicated in USDA's Acreage Report for 2011 are a bit higher than anticipated," Leeds says. "Given the rain and flooding of the past several weeks, harvested acreage numbers this fall may be a different story. There are still a lot of unknowns about this year's corn and soybean crops, both nationally and in Iowa. So the August USDA Crop Report will be a key indicator of just how many acres we have in corn and soybeans this year, and also a key indicator of what the 2011 yields are forecast to be."
Regarding the USDA June 30 grain stocks report showing larger soybean stocks than expected, ISA director of market development Grant Kimberley says, "With lower prices to follow short-term from this report, we expect new demand will be stimulated and soybean stocks will likely tighten again, particularly given this week's news of positive action in Washington D.C. on the pending free trade agreements. This grain stocks report is a great opportunity for end users."
Looking at the demand side of the equation, Leeds adds, "It is not clear what the final numbers of U.S. soybean exports to China will be this year. They've slowed down recently due to negative crush margins. However, most market analysts still expect China's total imports of soybeans to be at or slightly above last year. Long-term trends still indicate the need for more soybeans worldwide. Thus, ISA's number one priority is to increase yield to meet global demand."
Market prices indicate need to produce big corn crop this year
The Iowa Corn Growers Association also commented on the USDA's annual planted acreage report released June 30 which shows more U.S. corn acres and fewer soybean acres in 2011 than the grain trade was expecting.
Kevin Ross is the incoming president of ICGA. He farms near Minden in Pottawattamie County in western Iowa. "The USDA survey shows more corn acres planted this year, but I'm not surprised by those numbers," he says.
USDA is estimating 92.3 million acres of corn planted for 2011. Prior to the release of the June 30 official estimate, there was a lot of talk that as many as 93 million acres or more might be planted this year to corn. "At 92 million acres, the report was a surprise to many grain traders," notes Ross. "But we knew there was going to be a lot of corn planted this year, as prices have been strong for awhile as the market indicates we need to produce a big corn crop this year."
What's the condition of corn crop in western Iowa this summer?
Ross farms in Pottawattamie County which has been declared a disaster area by the federal government, due to extensive flooding along the Missouri River. Six counties along the western edge of Iowa are in that disaster category. How are things looking crop-wise in his area, and also closer to the river?
"Where I'm at, crops look really good," says Ross. "In these rolling hills of southwest Iowa all the corn looks very good. We've had plenty of moisture. We needed heat in June and now on the last day of June and the first few days of July, we're getting it. We know we'll get heat in July."
But along the river, it's a different story for crop conditions. "We feel bad for those farm families and other residents along the Missouri River who've been affected by the flooding in June," says Ross. "There are a lot of homes and a lot of farms that are underwater there. Many of those people are going to have to rebuild."
Most of the rest of the state of Iowa is looking pretty good so far
Active in the ICGA, Ross talks to corn growers in other parts of the state too. He took a trip across the state from western Iowa to eastern Iowa and back last week. "The corn looks pretty good," he says. "There are some spots that have had too much rain. But overall, the Iowa crop still looks good. I don't think we have as many fields in Iowa with yellow corn plants as we had last year at this time, so the nitrogen loss isn't as great as it was in 2010. Most of the corn this summer has the deep green color you like to see and it's growing very fast."
USDA numbers are showing below trend line yields for 2011. With crops looking better now as the weather warms up moving from June into July, could we see this year's U.S. corn crop get bigger? "That's a distinct possibility," says Ross. "But there are a lot of issues when you look at the entire Corn Belt. Ohio was so wet this spring and they had a heck of a time getting things planted. The crop in the eastern Corn Belt is late. North Dakota has some of the same issues."
"So, I don't know about the U.S. crop getting a whole lot bigger than it looks now," he adds. "Farmers are also still losing acres along the Missouri River due to flooding and there is seep water coming through the levees and under the levees in some locations and that seep water is drowning out parts of nearby fields. Thus, there will be other issues that come about this summer and we may have another weather scare too. Instead of too much water, the weather could turn hot and dry. That's always possible. The point is, we have a lot of time yet before this 2011 crop is in the bin."