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Planting plans: Survey finds fewer acres than anticipated

CHICAGO — A nationwide producer survey found both corn and soybean planted acres expected to be the third largest ever, but not to the levels expected.

Allendale Inc., an agricultural and commodity brokerage and analysis firm, conducted the survey March 1-13 across 30 states, including 11 states representing 80% of the nation’s corn, soybean and wheat production.

The survey found corn planting intentions of 94.631 million acres would be 4.9 million over 2019. This would be the third largest of all time and just 2.7 million off the 2012 peak at 97.291.

Allendale’s corn production estimate would imply an increase over 2019 of 1.677 billion bushels. That 15.369 billion 2020 production would be a record.

Soybean planting intentions are seen at 83.74 million acres, 7.6 million over last year. This would be the third largest acreage total, 6.4 million off the 2017 peak of 90.162.

Allendale’s 4.163 billion bushels soybean production estimate would be the fourth largest in history.

Wheat acreage is estimated at 44.465 million acres. This is down 693,000 from last year and is the lowest in history for the all-wheat data set that the U.S. Department of Agriculture started in 1919.

Assuming normal abandonment and trend yields, Allendale’s all-wheat production estimate of 1.874 billion bushels is 46 million under last year.

More Corn

Rich Nelson, Allendale chief strategist, said nine of the 11 top-producing states indicated year-over-year increases in corn acres; Nebraska and Kansas had reductions of 16,000 and 63,000 acres, respectively.

The survey results found a move to more soybeans in the northwest Corn Belt with 1.2 million more acres in North Dakota, a 1.3 million acre year-over-year increase in South Dakota, and a 964,000-acre hike in Minnesota.

Soybean acres in Indiana, Iowa and Missouri could decline slightly.

“That’s likely in the northwest Corn Belt due to the current ground moisture there now, as well as the above normal moisture forecast,” Nelson said.

Allendale’s survey suggests 222.8 million planted acres for the big three — corn, soybeans and wheat. Combined acreage dropped to 211 million acres in 2019 due to prevent plant after reaching 225.9 million in 2018.

“A lot of people mistakenly believe that acreage is fixed. It’s not, acreage flows into and out of production based on profitability and many other factors. The main message in general is the concerns about farm profitability over the past four or five years. This has led to an acreage decline. This is normal and expected. The only question is the size of the acreage decline,” Nelson said.

“So, I was a little surprised by the fact that our survey suggests we still would be a little bit under that 2018 number by a full 3 million acres. I expected maybe we would be off by 1 million, maybe up to 2 million acres. It’s a little lower total planting than I wanted to see on this report.

“The acreage numbers are simply a survey. What actually does get planted is certainly a whole different question for us.”

Marketing Trends

Allendale’s survey also included the growers’ old crop and new crop marketing positions.

“For corn, it looks like producers are roughly on track with what they normally do by this point,” Nelson said.

The survey found 65% of the old crop corn sold which is at or near the trend each of the past four years.

The survey indicated 68.1% of old crop soybeans were sold at the time of the survey, slightly less than usual at this point. The high was 86.6% in the 2017 survey.

“Producers are holding a few more old crop soybeans than we expected to see. It’s not a big surprise,” Nelson said.

Old crop wheat sales are at 79.5% which is a little behind where it normally in early March.

As expected, the sales also carried over into the new crop numbers.

Producers said they have about 10.3% of new crop corn sold at this point. It’s ranged from 11% to 13% the past few years.

“The new crop soybeans sold really stands out with 5.6% sold at this point. That’s quite a bit less than the 11% to 29% of new crop sold at this point over the past 4 years,” Nelson said.

Nearly 13% of the new crop wheat was sold by early March.

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