By DOUG SCHMITZ
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. producers intend to plant an estimated 91.1 million acres of corn, and 87.6 million acres of soybeans in 2021, up less than 1 percent from last year, according to the USDA’s Prospective Plantings Report, released March 31.
“Combined, corn and soybean acres would be an estimated 178.7 million acres, the second-highest acreage on record, behind only 2017, when more than 180 million acres were planted,” said Shelby Myers, American Farm Bureau Federation economist.
“But with tightening supplies rapidly driving commodity prices higher over the last month, it’s hard to believe farmers would not consider this incentive to plant more acres of both corn and soybeans, and surpass the 2017 record,” she added.
Released annually in March, the Prospective Plantings Report provides the first official, survey-based estimates of U.S. farmers’ 2021 planting intentions. The USDA’s acreage estimates are based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of nearly 80,000 farmers across the United States.
The report said planted acreage intentions for corn are up or unchanged in 24 of the 48 estimating states. The largest increases are expected in the Dakotas, where producers intend to plant a combined 8.9 million acres, an increase of 2 million acres from 2020.
In addition, U.S. producers across most of the Corn Belt intend to plant fewer acres than last year. If realized, the planted area of corn in Idaho and Oregon will be the largest on record.
The report also said U.S. soybean growers intend to plant 87.6 million acres in 2021, up 5 percent from last year, the report said. If realized, this will be the third highest planted acreage on record. Compared with last year, planted soybean acreage is expected to be up or unchanged in 23 of the 29 states estimated.
The report said corn acreage is expected to be the highest in Iowa at 13.2 million acres, down 3 percent from 2020, when 13.6 million acres were planted. Producers intend to plant 9.8 million acres of soybeans in Iowa this year, a 400,000-acre increase from 2020.
Iowa farmers intend to plant 150,000 acres of oats for all purposes, a 20,000-acre decrease from last year, the report said. Farmers also expect to harvest 1.15 million acres of all dry hay for the 2021 crop year, a 10,000-acre decrease from last year.
The report said the second-largest state for intended corn acres is Illinois at 10.9 million acres, down 4 percent from 2020, followed by Nebraska with 9.9 million acres, down 3 percent from 2020.
Illinois winter wheat area seeded last fall is estimated at 700,000 acres, up 23 percent from last year. Area planted to oats is expected to total 60,000 acres, unchanged from 2020. Producers intend to harvest 450,000 acres of all hay in 2021, down 8 percent from last year.
In Indiana, farmers intend to plant less corn and more soybeans, compared to last year, the report said. Acres intended for corn are 5.2 million acres, down 4 percent from last year. Indiana producers also intended to plant 5.8 million acres of soybeans, up 2 percent from last year.
Indiana winter wheat acreage seeded last fall for harvest in 2021 is estimated at 380,000 acres, up 27 percent from the crop seeded in 2019. Hay acres intended for dry hay harvest, at 520,000 acres, is 4 percent above the 500,000 acres harvested last year.
In Kentucky, farmers intend to plant 1.55 million acres of corn, 60,000 higher than 2020, the report said. Kentucky soybean acreage was expected to total 1.95 million acres, up 100,000 acres from last year. Burley tobacco growers intend to set 36,000 acres for harvest, down 1,000 acres from 2020. Winter wheat seeded totaled 530,000 acres, up 20,000 acres from last year.
In Michigan, producers plan to plant 2.25 million acres of corn, down 4 percent from last year, the report said. Producers also intend to plant 2.25 million acres of soybeans, up 2 percent from last year. Winter wheat seedings, at 560,000 acres, were up 14 percent from 2019 fall plantings.
Michigan’s area intended for harvest as dry hay, at 820,000 acres, is up 5 percent from last year. Oat planting intentions are up 7 percent from last year, to 75,000 acres. Michigan growers also intend to plant fewer sugar beets and dry beans in 2021 than they did in 2020.
In Ohio, corn producers intend to plant 3.4 million acres this spring, down 4 percent from last year, the report said. Ohio soybean acreage is forecast at 5 million acres for 2021, up 2 percent from last year.
Ohio hay acreage for 2021 is estimated at 880,000 acres, up 2 percent from 2020. This includes alfalfa, grain, and all other types of hay intended to be harvested for dry hay. Winter wheat acreage for 2021 harvest is estimated at 570,000 acres, up 8 percent from last year.
In Tennessee, farmers intend to plant 1 million acres of corn, 130,000 higher than 2020, the report said. Soybean acreage was expected to total 1.7 million acres, up 50,000 acres from last year. Upland cotton acreage to be planted is forecast at 290,000, up 10,000 acres from 2020.
Tennessee burley tobacco growers intend to set 2,800 acres for harvest, unchanged acres from 2020. Winter wheat seeded last fall totaled 400,000 acres, up 100,000 acres from last year. Farmers also intend to harvest 1.7 million acres of all hay, down 49,000.0 acres from 2020.
The report said North Dakota is estimated to have the largest year-over-year change in planted corn acres, with an estimated 3.3 million acres planted, up 69 percent from 2020, when 1.95 million acres were planted.
Myers said, “When combined, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota lead the country in corn and soybean acres, with Minnesota being the only state with an increase in acres from 2020 to 2021.”
The report said all wheat planted area for 2021 is estimated at 46.4 million acres, up 5 percent from 2020, representing the fourth lowest all-wheat planted area since records began in 1919.
U.S. winter wheat planted area, at 33.1 million acres, is up 3 percent from the previous estimate, and up 9 percent from last year, the seventh lowest planted acreage on record, the report said. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2021 is expected to total 11.7 million acres, down 4 percent from 2020.
In addition, durum wheat is expected to total 1.54 million acres for 2021, down 9 percent from last year, the report said. All cotton planted area for 2021 is expected to total 12 million acres, less than 1 percent below last year.
Myers said, “Good news for farmers, tightened supplies and increased demand will help hold commodity prices at current levels and could potentially drive them higher.”
“Market reactions to the report’s release caused corn prices to jump 25 cents on the day to above $5.60 per bushel, and soybean prices to jump 70 cents to above $14.30 per bushel, with markets increasing the daily price limit on futures contracts, 40 cents on corn, and $1.05 on soybeans,” she said.
Rich Nelson, chief strategist at Allendale, Inc., said he expected another higher trade last Friday (April 2) ahead of the three-day holiday weekend.
“Today’s report likely disrupts the historical lower action in March and April that seasonals suggest,” he said. “Some of today’s bullishness will be blunted in the coming days by discussions about “actual” acreage running higher than today, based on good planting weather ahead.”