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USDA releases acreage estimates
By Michele F. Mihaljevich
Indiana Correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C. – USDA released its latest acreage estimates June 28, but a market analyst said uncertainty over the impact of weather problems in some areas of the county makes it difficult to come up with final crop production numbers.
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) also released June 1 grain stocks numbers.
NASS surveyed farmers the first two weeks of June. Before that, and after, parts of the U.S. were hit with storms and flooding, said Todd Hultman, DTN lead market analyst.
“There’s going to be a lot of challenge in taking what we learned today and still trying to figure out how much corn production we’re going to come up with this fall,” he explained. “We’re still a long ways and with the numbers today, we’re not a lot closer, to be honest. I can’t say we’ve learned a lot but this is definitely a more solid survey than the (planting) intentions report we get in March. Given the weather problems, there’s a lot of asterisks around the numbers we’re seeing today.”
ASS estimated farmers planted 91.5 million acres of corn, down 3 percent from last year’s 94.6 million. For soybeans, the agency projected 86.1 million acres, up 3 percent from 83.6 million in 2023. Wheat acreage is estimated at 47.2 million, down 5 percent from 49.6 million last year.
Corn acreage was higher than expected by the trade, while soybeans and wheat were lower, Hultman noted.
About 3.4 million acres of corn hadn’t been planted at the time of the survey, but were included in the total corn acreage, he said. NASS expects that acreage to be planted, Hultman added. Last year, 2.49 million acres weren’t planted when the survey was done. For soybeans, about 12.8 million acres hadn’t been planted at the time of the survey. Last year, 8.22 million weren’t planted.
“Typically, the acreage report has a very good track record of offering estimates that are close to what end up being the final planted totals,” he pointed out. “The exception is when we have weather problems and I would put this year in that category. Of course, 2019 was the poster child of weather problems that really kind of messed up the acreage estimates in June. I would call this a minor version of 2019, I think, that we’re going to be dealing with here.”
The three-crop (corn, soybeans and wheat) acreage total was 224.8 million, down from last year’s 227.8 million.
“Corn continues to be the most popular crop of the three big crops,” Hultman said. “Wheat continues on its long-term downtrend. It’s been very tough to make profits in wheat the past couple decades. Soybeans are maintaining some equity with corn but corn is still king for the moment.”
As for the three-crop total, he said, “the obvious question is, ‘well, what happened to those 3 million acres?’ I don’t have a good answer, to be honest.”
Winter wheat acreage was 33.8 million acres, a drop from last year’s 36.7 million.
“So, even though our winter wheat conditions are much better than they were a year ago in terms of soil moisture, especially in the Western Plains, the overall planted acres are down,” Hultman said.
Iowa farmers planted 13.1 million acres of corn, unchanged from last year. Illinois, 10.9 million, down from 11.2 million; Indiana, 5.1 million, down from 5.5 million; Ohio, 3.4 million, down from 3.6 million; Michigan, 2.2 million, down from 2.4 million; Kentucky, 1.55 million, down from 1.6 million; and Tennessee, 850,000, down from 940,000.
For soybeans, Illinois, 10.7 million acres, up from 10.4 million in 2023. Iowa, 9.9 million, down from 9.95 million; Indiana, 5.8 million, up from 5.5 million; Ohio, 4.9 million, up from 4.8 million; Michigan, 2.3 million, up from 2.04 million; Kentucky, 2.1 million, up from 1.8 million; and Tennessee, 1.7 million, up from 1.6 million.
Stocks of corn, soybeans and wheat were all more than the trade had expected, Hultman said. Corn stocks were 4.99 billion bushels, up 22 percent from a year ago. The average pre-trade guess was 4.87 billion.
Soybean stocks were 970 million bushels, also up 22 percent from June 1, 2023. The trade expected 957 million. All old crop wheat stocks were 702 million, up 23 percent from last year. The trade had estimated 682 million.
Hultman said the corn numbers show the U.S. used 11.73 billion bushels of corn in the first three quarters of this season. That’s a couple hundred million bushels less than what the U.S. saw two or three seasons ago when the country’s corn supplies were much lower. Corn was $6-plus then, while it’s around $4 now, he said.
“We’ve had much better export demand than we had a year ago,” Hultman noted. “We’ve had good ethanol demand. Ethanol production is up roughly 4 percent from a year ago. I guess it baffles me that we did not see a higher demand total bring the corn stocks down lower than expected this time around.”
Wheat stocks were the highest they’ve been in the last three years but also the third lowest in 10 years, he said.