Survey Says... Bean Acres Up, Corn Plantings Down from March

Posted on 06/22/2018 12:40 PM


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USDA’s March Prospective Plantings Report signaled producers intended to plant more acres to soybeans than corn this year. But the market was surprised that soybean planting intentions in March were down from year-ago. As a result, traders immediately assumed soybean acres would rise from original intentions. The Pro Farmer/Doane Advisory Services June planting survey indicates soybean plantings indeed increased from March intentions — but not by a wide margin. Corn plantings, which were also expected to be down from last year, declined even more than March intentions indicated, based on our survey.

Soybean acres up 0.8% from March intentions

Pro Farmer/Doane estimates 2018 soybean acres at 89.7 million acres, based on our analysis of survey responses, up just over 700,000 acres (0.8%) from March intentions. But that would be down 400,000 acres from last year’s record plantings of 90.1 million acres. This would mark the first time since 1983, and only the second time ever, soybean plantings topped corn acres. Last year, corn acres just barely topped soybean plantings.

The majority of farmers (80%) in our survey indicated they did not change their soybean plantings from March intentions. Eleven percent of farmers who responded to our survey signaled they increased soybean acres from March, while 9% said they planted fewer soybeans than originally intended.

 Soybean acres were little changed from March intentions across the Interstate 80 corridor — Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Each of the states averaged within 1% higher or lower than March.

There was a higher bias across the northern Midwest, from the Dakotas to Michigan and then on into Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. North Dakota reported more switching from corn to beans than any other state. A lower bias from southern growers was not enough to offset the higher acres in the northern states or the steady bias across the central Corn Belt.

Corn acres seen down 0.5% from March

Our June survey indicates farmers planted 87.6 million acres to corn, down 426,000 acres (0.5%) from USDA’s March estimate. If accurate, corn acres would be down nearly 2.6 million acres from last year.

Some 81% of farmers responding to our survey indicated they did not change corn plantings from March intentions. Of those that altered acres from their original intentions, 7% indicated they planted more corn and 12% planted fewer acres to corn.

It should come as no surprise that corn acres were within 1% of March intentions along the I-80 corridor. A similarly minimal shift in final plantings from the original intentions was also noted from producers in Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas. Across the northern states where higher soybean plantings were reported, corn plantings declined from March intentions. The indicated corn acreage declines were most emphatic in North Dakota. Net losses were indicated as well for Michigan, Minnesota, and South Dakota. There were scattered reports of some acres not being planted and likely to be claimed as prevent-plant in these states.

Total corn/soybean acres down 1.7% from 2017

We estimate total corn and soybean plantings down 3.0 million acres (1.7%) from last year, but up roughly 300,000 acres from March intentions. Many market-watchers felt USDA’s combined corn/soybean acreage estimate in March was 2 million to 3 million acres too light. Since there weren’t any major planting issues aside from some areas in the northern states, our combined corn/bean estimate might end up light compared to USDA’s, despite what the survey data indicated.

Clear indication of lower spring wheat acres

We estimate other spring wheat plantings at 12.1 million acres, based on your survey responses. That would be down 577,000 acres (4.6%) from March intentions. Survey responses clearly signaled fewer spring wheat plantings, with 39% of producers saying they lowered acres from their March plans, while 61% made no change. Surveys indicated other spring wheat acreage was down 4% to 5% in North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota. Producers indicated smaller reductions in South Dakota and the Pacific Northwest.

Cotton acreage likely to climb from March

Our cotton planted acreage estimate is 13.7 million, up 231,000 acres (1.7%) from USDA’s March estimate. That matches what we estimated in March.

Three-quarters of all respondents indicated their cotton plantings didn’t deviate from March, while 17% increased cotton plantings and 8% planted fewer acres to cotton than originally intended. None of the survey responses from Texas signaled any change from their original intentions. Producers in the Delta and Southeast indicated they planted more cotton than they planned in March.

Sorghum acres down marginally from March

We estimate sorghum acres at roughly 5.9 million acres, down 0.3% from March. Two-thirds of survey responses indicated no change, while 19% reported milo acres were down from their original intentions and 15% said they planted more sorghum.

Barley acres up, sunflowers and canola basically steady

Our barley estimate of 2.2 million acres would be down 2.7% from March intentions. We estimate sunflower and canola acres at 1.4 million and 2.1 million acres, respectively, unchanged from March.

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