by John Michael Riley (MSU Ag Economics) and John Anderson (American Farm Bureau)
Yesterday morning, USDA released the results of their annual planted acreage survey, and the results took the market by surprise. Soybean acres were predicted to be 76.53 million acres – a marginal decrease from the March Prospective Plantings number. From the report yesterday USDA has these acres at 75.208 million, 2.8% below the 2010 planted acreage. This came as a bit of a surprise since the notion was that the delayed plantings for corn would be switched to beans, but as will be further discussed below, that apparently did not happen.
Corn planted area was estimated at 92.3 million acres. Pre-report estimates averaged around 90.7 million acres, with the highest pre-report figures at about 91.5 million acres. Despite all the talk of delayed and even prevented planting, corn acreage is currently estimated to be about 100 thousand acres higher than planting intentions in March. What’s more notable is the fact that acreage expectations are now about 1.6 million acres higher than in the June World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board (the group responsible for producing the WASDE report each month) had adjusted the June corn acreage estimate down in response to widespread planting problems.
National cotton acreage came in higher than the March number as well at 13.725 million acres. Analysts had the number at 13.26 million prior to the report and USDA’s March acreage expectation was 12.57 million. One caveat to keep in mind, expect abandonment rates to be higher with this year’s crop. Of the 7.1 million acres in Texas, more than normal will likely be unharvested due to the severe drought in that region (other southwest states will face the same issues, although I only highlight Texas’ acreage here).
Rice acres in the US will be down further than expected in March which was already a drop off compared to 2010 plantings. The 2011 acreage is 2.7 million versus 3.6 in 2010 and 3.0 projected in March.
It appears that the very damp Spring we experienced did have some bearing on planted acres – just not where everyone suspected. Rice acres most likely were down as a result of the flooding that took place in the Mid South. Cotton acres were much higher, but that was most likely a result of both flooding and higher prices after the data were collected for the March planting intentions report. However, corn and soybean acres did not see the switch that was expected. One of the major points of debate among market analysts this year was just how long farmers would stick with planting corn. High expected returns coupled with sunk cost regarding fertilizer provided an incentive to continue with corn planting well beyond what would typically be considered the normal planting window. USDA’s acreage estimate clearly implies that this is exactly what farmers have done – to an even greater extent than most analysts expected. Eastern Corn Belt states that faced tremendous planting challenges generally saw relatively small drops in acreage from March intentions. Reported corn plantings in Ohio were down by just 200 thousand acres (about 5% below intentions). Plantings in Indiana were even with intentions. Plantings in Michigan and Kentucky were actually higher than intentions. Western Corn Belt states that did not face the same planting delays as eastern states also tended to increase plantings. Plantings exceeded intentions in Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota by 300, 500, and 200 thousand acres, respectively. The market will quickly shift its focus to two questions: how many of these planted acres will actually be harvested, and what will final yields look like?
Regarding Mississippi planted acres, few surprises were seen as most crops were within range of the March Prospective Plantings report; however there were some shifts compared to 2010. Soybean acres are down slightly from March’s number at 1.83 million, 1.1% below March and 8.5% below 2010 plantings. Corn acres from yesterday’s report are at 860,000, the same as in March and 14.7% above 2010. Cotton acres saw a quite a jump from March, now at 600,000 versus 530,000 projected in March and 42.9% above 2010’s 420,000 acres. Rice acres are down, now at 185,000, a 7.5% decrease from March’s projection and 39.3% below 2010. Sorghum acreage was expected to experience a bump but fell short of that projection with acres at 40,000 compared to 75,000 in March and 12,000 last year. Hay acres are called higher at 720,000 versus 670,000 in March and 700,000 in 2010.