Western Corn Belt to lead drop in US corn sowings, and gain in soy


Spring is just around the corner (though recent weather makes it hard to believe in many areas), and industry players are looking ahead to the 2018 crop season.

Allendale, a Chicago area agricultural commodity brokerage and analysis firm, has released estimates following their annual nationwide survey of planting acreage prior to the US Department of Agriculture’s Prospective Plantings report on March 29.

Allendale estimates corn planting intentions are 88.514m acres in 2018, which would be the lowest in three years.

Corn acreage in 2017 was 90.167m acres. It would be 8.8m off the 2012 peak of 97.291.

Allendale’s estimate would imply a corn production decrease of 459m bushels compared to last year.

In a webinar conducted by Allendale Wednesday, the 2018 corn acreage breakdown showed western Corn Belt plantings down 0.999m acres, while eastern Corn Belt acres fell by 0.500m acres.

Soybean prospects

Soybean planting intentions are seen at 92.104m acres, which if realised would be a new record.

Soybean acres in 2017 totalled 90.142m.

However, Allendale’s production estimate would be 63m bushels under last year’s record, as “higher acreage would be more than offset by a return down to trend yields”.

Record high soybean acres could still potentially add some pressure to soybean futures moving forward.

Western Corn Belt soybean acres were estimated to be up 1.082m acres from 2017, while eastern Corn Belt acres rose 0.659m.

North Dakota notably reported declining intentions for both corn and soybean acres, which could signal higher spring wheat acres there, among others, according to Allendale.

Planting incentives

What’s driving planting intentions—crop rotation or economics?

Allendale says, “a little of both.” However, they believe general crop rotations seem to be the primary reason behind acreage changes.

A moderate change to soybeans can likely be attributed to the current market.

Allendale reports that 65% of old crop corn has been sold by this point, as well as 85% of old crop soybeans, both close to year-ago marks.

Wriggle room

The USDA will release its Prospective Plantings report later this month, on March 29.

Rich Nelson, chief strategist at Allendale, believes corn acreage estimates aren’t likely to change too much between now and then.

Soybeans could potentially see some change, but many farmers have already made their decisions at this time regarding plantings.

Allendale’s acreage survey included farmers throughout 27 states.


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