Crop Consultant Dr. Michael Cordonnier points out the ten states with the greatest percentage increases in planted corn acreage from year-ago will be fridge corn states, according to last week's USDA Prospective Plantings Report. He believes USDA's corn planted acreage peg of 93.601 million will probably be the highest number of the year and views the 82.236 million acre figure for soybeans as the lowest of the year.
"In the heart of the Corn Belt, the corn acreage increase was 0% to 3% (compared to 2015), while in the fringe areas, it was much higher in the range of 10% to as much as 80% higher," says Cordonnier. "The 10 states with the greatest percentage increases in corn acreage were: Louisiana (183%), Arkansas (172%), Mississippi (157%), Alabama (131%), North Dakota (124%), Georgia (118%), North Carolina (118%), Kansas (116%), Missouri (111%) and South Carolina (108%). If you look at the Delta and Southeastern states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, their combined corn acreage went from 2,255,000 acres in 2015 to 3,370,000 acres in 2016 or an increase of 1,110,000 acres."
Cordonnier says many of the southern areas are wet and the window for corn planting will soon close. "Where the farmers have already done their fieldwork ahead of planting, the majority of the corn will be planted unless there is another batch of wet weather," he says. "In the areas where there was more extensive flooding and saturated conditions and the farmers have not been able to get much fieldwork completed, some of the intended corn acres may be switched to soybeans or cotton. Mid-April is going to be the important decision time for southern producers. If they don't get their corn planted by that date, they may have to switch to another crop."
Due to the recent surge in soybean prices, the price ratio between corn and soybeans is more favorable for soybeans, says Cordonnier. Due to improved economics for soybeans and wet conditions in the mid-South, he believes planted corn acreage will be in a range of 92 to 93 million acres.
Cordonnier acknowledges it's too early to gauge yield potential, but says due to the potential for acreage expansion in low-yielding areas, "I think we should be a little more conservative on the potential corn yield." He notes while there has been a lot of talk of corn yields in the upper 160's bu. per acre, he believes that should be reduced to a range of 163 bu. to 165 bu. per acre "due to the increase acreage in the lower yielding environments."