USDA Says Wet Weather Has Iowa Farmers Planting More Soybeans

USDA Says Wet Weather Has Iowa Farmers Planting More Soybeans

USDA's June 28 Acreage Report indicates Iowa farmers have slightly less corn, slightly more soybeans planted than intended.

USDA's much anticipated 2013 Acreage Report released June 28 estimates farmers in Iowa are planting 14 million acres of corn and 9.5 million acres of soybeans this year. That's down slightly from 14.2 million acres of corn and up slightly from 9.4 million acres of soybeans estimated by USDA in its Planting Intentions survey released in late March.

The wet spring and cool temperatures forced many farmers to delay plantings, which is now leading to concerns among some farmers that late-planted crops could be hit by hot temperatures and drier conditions during important stages of growth—pollination time for corn and pod filling period for soybeans--which would suppress yields.

BIG CORN CROP COMING?: USDA's June 28 Acreage Report estimates 97.4 million U.S. acres planted to corn in 2013, up 200,000 from 2012. Growers navigated a wet planting season and if weather's favorable this summer and fall, they could harvest one of the largest U.S. corn crops ever. Soybean plantings for 2013 are estimated at record high 77.7 million acres, up 1% from last year. All wheat planted area for 2013 is estimated at 56.5 million acres, up 1% from 2012.

Looking at the numbers nationally, USDA's June 28 acreage estimates, based on surveys conducted during first half of June are projecting U.S. corn plantings of 97.4 million acres in 2013, up slightly from the 97.3 million acres forecast by the government in late March. The soybean acreage estimate for 2013 has risen to an estimated 77.7 million acres, up from the March planting intentions survey of 77.1 million acres.

Corn acreage planted in Iowa and U.S. for 2013 is largely unaffected by wet spring

USDA's estimate of 97.4 million corn acres planted this spring means growers navigated a wet planting season to plant what could turn out to be one of the largest U.S. corn crops ever. "Even though we had a planting season that was difficult at times, farmers did a terrific job in the field and we are looking forward to a great summer and bountiful fall harvest," says National Corn Growers Association president Pam Johnson, who farms with her family in Floyd County in northeast Iowa.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

"If the weather stays favorable as expected for the rest of the growing season," notes Johnson, "we may hit a record U.S. corn crop of about 14 billion bushels come harvest this fall–which would be great news after the drought of 2012."

USDA report on planted acres looks to potentially harvesting big U.S. corn crop

USDA's estimate that farmers in the U.S. have planted 97.379 million acres of corn in 2013 is only about 200,000 more acres than were planted in 2012. However, USDA is also estimating that farmers will harvest slightly more acres than they did in 2012—harvested acres as a percent of planted acres are expected to be higher than last year. And USDA is projecting a yield of 156.5 bushels per acre nationally for 2013. Based on the June estimates, it would mean a corn crop of 13.9 billion bushels, the largest ever for the U.S. and more than 3 billion bushels over the amount produced in 2012.

The top five states for corn planted acres in 2013 are Iowa (14 million acres), Illinois (12.2 million), Nebraska (10.2 million), Minnesota (8.7 million) and Indiana (6.1 million)--according to USDA's June 28 report. Soybeans and wheat are also seeing an increase in acres planted in the U.S. in 2013. Soybean planted area for 2013 is estimated at a record high 77.7 million acres, up 1% from last year. All wheat planted area for 2013 is estimated at 56.5 million acres, up 1% from 2012.

Wet Midwest weather leads to Iowa farmers planting more soybeans in 2013

Iowa farmers have planted more soybeans and less corn than intended this year due to a record wet spring. USDA estimates the state's farmers have planted 9.5 million acres of soybeans in 2013, up 100,000 acres from the government's March planting intentions survey. Iowa farmers planted 9.35 million acres of soybeans in 2012.

Corn acreage is down in Iowa in 2013, according to the June 2013 survey. An estimated 14 million acres of corn have been planted this year, down 200,000 acres from March intentions.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

It's been a challenging year for many Iowa farmers. The northern tier of the state, along with parts of central Iowa, will have the most "prevented planting" acres in 2013, say farmers, agronomists and crop insurance sources. Many farmers who still had fields to plant gave up on corn planting when the calendar got to mid-June. Some switched to soybeans if they didn't already have a corn herbicide applied that prevented planting beans on intended corn acres. Others took the "prevented planting" option offered by crop insurance, as prevented planting provides 60% of their revenue guarantee.

Late planting, replanting and prevented planting affect Iowa 2013 crop acres

Some farmers in late June decided to take prevented planting on their intended soybean acres, but most who still had soybeans to plant—which were mostly in northeast, north central and central Iowa--vowed to keep trying to plant beans, weather permitting, until early July.

The Iowa Soybean Association says its members in Mitchell and Howard counties in northeast Iowa, after consulting with agronomists, ag chemical and seed dealers, estimate that a small percentage of intended soybean acres in each county won't be planted, but they say 30% of the intended corn acres won't be planted. Thus, corn acres will be hit harder than soybean acres in terms of "prevented planting" in 2013.

Mitchell County farmers planted 158,500 acres of corn and 85,500 acres of soybeans last year, while Howard County producers planted 138,500 acres of corn and 85,500 acres of soybeans, according to USDA.

Barry Christensen, an ISA member and farmer near Lime Springs--in Howard County and near the Iowa-Minnesota state line--finished planting soybeans last week. But he and his father will have 400 acres of "prevented planting" corn in 2013. Christensen isn't sure if the tens of thousands of acres in Mitchell and Howard counties left unplanted will make a difference at the national and international levels.

Frustrating in areas of Iowa where acres haven't been planted this year

"It's tough to see fields with just black dirt and weeds," Christensen says. "With all the cattle, hogs and ethanol plants to support, the large amount of unplanted acres will make a big impact locally. Corn will have to be brought into this area."~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

As of June 28, farmer Wayne Fredericks of Osage only had 60 acres of soybeans remaining to plant out of 1,000 acres split between soybeans and corn. He says this is the most difficult, gut-wrenching planting season since he started farming in 1973. "You can see the frustration on people's faces," Fredericks says. "You can drive for three miles and have fields on each side not planted. Maybe the market will realize it."

Mark Jackson, ISA president who farms near Rose Hill in southeast Iowa, encourages farmers to remain focused on their marketing efforts. "The adage 'rain makes grain' is a dominant theme on traders' minds and will likely pressure price cycles throughout the 2013 marketing season," says Jackson. "This is little consolation to farmers with mixed crop conditions. But a reminder to use the expertise of the ISA and other sources to help you maximize crop management decisions in another difficult cropping season."

The ISA offers a number of resources to assist farmers, including:

*A continually-updated Soybean Planting Brief found online.

*A new weed management resource called "Take Action," found online.

*An ISA Bean Blog documenting member activity, soybeans and other ag issues, available here.

Old crop supplies remain quite tight for corn and soybeans. Nationally, while the USDA Acreage Report released June 28 offered a record-high estimate of 77.7 million acres of soybeans planted, up 1% from last year, the USDA Grain Stocks Report was also released June 28. It estimates the nation's soybean reserves at 435 million bushels, down 35% from a year ago, points out Chad Hart, Iowa State University Extension economist.

USDA estimates the U.S. corn inventory currently at 2.76 billion bushels, down 12% from June 2012. It would take a crop of 13 billion bushels to meet basic demands, and USDA projects this year's crop to come in at 13.9 billion bushels, allowing stocks to build. And with a projected 3.3 billion bushels of soybean production in 2013, that would be enough beans to start adding to the inventory.

Of course, there's a long way to go before the large 2013 crops farmers are hoping for are in the bin, notes Hart. Meanwhile, tight inventories of corn and soybeans and high prices can benefit corn and soybean growers, but the combination leaves end users, such as livestock and ethanol producers, to compete for grain. Higher prices, if they develop, will keep some of those end users from being profitable.

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