Farmers in Iowa are likely to plant at least 2% more acres to corn this spring than in 2011, according to a survey taken at the Iowa Power Farming show in early February in Des Moines. They will plant slightly fewer soybean acres than last year.
The survey was conducted at the annual farm machinery show with the assistance of AgriSource Inc., a West Des Moines grain market advisory service. The survey results indicate Iowa farmers will plant 14.4 million acres to corn this year, up 300,000 acres from last year. Soybean acres will drop about 50,000 acres to 9.3 million in Iowa. Many of the new corn acres in 2012 will come from land that has been idled and is now coming out of the USDA's Conservation Reserve Program.
The survey results are in line with what market analysts are expecting—a larger overall planted acreage number for corn and soybeans in 2012. Corn prices have remained strong, with cash markets at central Iowa elevators averaging $6.33 a bushel and soybeans $12.55 a bushel on Wednesday February 15.
Number of acres eventually planted may change a little, but you can expect more corn
"We feel Iowa and U.S. acreage numbers for 2012 are still a moving target," says Keith Gehling, a market analyst with AgriSource. "There are areas of Iowa and Minnesota that have been very dry the past six months, and questions remain on what they are going to plant. We have farmer-customers in the eastern Corn Belt telling us it is too wet over there."
The sample size of the survey is roughly 6% of the approximately 23 million corn and soybean acres that are usually planted in Iowa. "The data is pointing to a convincing shift to record corn acreage in 2012 in the United States," says Gehling. "The survey and from what our customers are telling us are indicating an increase in total planted acreage for 2012 across Iowa and the United States."
The boom in ethanol production the last 10 years has resulted in more acres devoted to corn production. In the year 2000 Iowa farmers planted 12.3 million acres to corn, a number that rose steadily in the last decade as Iowa's 41 ethanol plants gradually increased their share of Iowa's corn consumption to 60%. Approximately 60% of the annual Iowa corn crop is now going into ethanol production.
While corn acres have increased the last 10 years, soybean acres have declined
Soybean acres in Iowa have correspondingly dropped from 10.8 million acres in 2000 to the 9.3 million acres expected to be planted this year. While soybeans produce the higher price per bushel, corn yields have averaged between three and four times that of soybeans on a per acre basis.
The Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers sponsor the Iowa Power Farming show each year in Des Moines. The survey at this year's show was conducted by surveying more than 2,000 farmers during the three-day machinery show, which attracted a record crowd of 22,548 people.