Our Planting Intentions Survey Shows Total Crop Area Up 3%.

Posted on Fri, 03/19/2021 - 12:38

We expect total area planted to crops in the U.S. to rise to 319.4 million acres this year, up 8.9 million acres (2.9%) from last year and the highest since 2018, based on the results of the annual Pro Farmer/Doane planting intentions survey. Stronger prices and improved farm financial conditions are expected to bring more acres into production.

Not surprisingly, our survey signaled there will be big increases in corn and soybean acres this year given the sharp rise in prices. We project total corn and soybean plantings at a record 182.3 million acres, which would be up 8.4 million acres (4.8%) from last year. Total acres planted to the big four crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton) are expected to rise 9.5 million acres (4.1%) from last year.


2020 Actual
(mil. acres)

2021 Intentions
(mil. acres)

% Change from 2020













All wheat




   Other spring













Our analysis of survey responses signals producers intend to plant 93.4 million acres to corn this year, up 2.6 million acres (2.8%) from last year. However, corn acres are expected to be lower across the central Corn Belt, with producers signaling they would reduce corn plantings by 2.9% in Iowa, 2.7% in Illinois and 3.9% in Nebraska compared with year-ago. Wisconsin producers also indicated they would trim corn acres by 1.3%. Survey responses from the rest of the Corn Belt indicated higher corn plantings, led by a 59% surge in North Dakota and an 11.1% jump in South Dakota. Outside of the Corn Belt, producers indicated they would increase corn plantings by 7.7% this year.

Producers indicated they intend to plant 88.9 million acres to soybeans in 2021, up 5.8 million acres (7%) from last year. Soybean plantings are expected to rise across all of the 12 Corn Belt states except Kansas, where producers signaled they intend to plant 2.1% fewer acres to soybeans this year. We project soybean plantings will rise 5.3% in Iowa, 3.9% in Illinois and 10.6% in Nebraska — not surprising given the indicated declines in corn acres in those states.

As with corn, producers in the Dakotas indicated they plan on seeding a lot more acres to soybeans this year, with a 20% jump noted in North Dakota and a 17.2% increase in South Dakota. Outside of the Corn Belt, producers signaled they would increase soybean plantings by 10.0%.

Our survey showed producers in the Northern Plains intend to plant 11.6 million acres to other spring wheat, down 650,000 acres (5.3%) from last year. Despite the expected big increase in corn and soybean acres in North Dakota, farmers there indicated they would increase other spring wheat seedings by 1.8% this year. The big jump in overall plantings in the state reflects last year’s heavy prevent-plant acres coming back into production. Our survey showed other spring wheat acres will decline 9.1% in Minnesota, 16.9% in South Dakota, 12.1% in Montana, 9.8% in Idaho and 7.4% in Washington.

Survey responses signal producers intend to plant 12.2 million acres to cotton, up 107,000 acres (0.9%) from last year. We project cotton seedings will increase 2.7% in Texas, which basically offsets producer plans to reduce cotton acres across most of the Mid-South, Delta and Southeast.

Respondents indicated they intend to increase sorghum acres by 13.9%, canola by 9.6% and barley by 9.5%.

A word on our survey’s track record: There’s a slight tendency for our survey to underestimate corn acres and overestimate soybean plantings compared with USDA’s March intentions. Over the past 10 years, our spring acreage survey on average has been 980,000 acres too low for corn and 881,000 acres too high for soybeans. Our survey has done a very good job of pegging combined corn and soybean acres over the past decade.