#KingCorn- Prospective Plantings for 2016

A news release yesterday from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) stated that, “U.S. corn growers expect to plant 93.6 million acres to corn this year, according to the Prospective Plantings report released today by [NASS]. This is the first increase in corn planted acreage since 2012 and, if realized, will be the third largest corn acreage since 1944.

Driven by the expectations of higher returns in 2016 compared with other crops, corn growers in 41 of the 48 contiguous states expect to either maintain or increase the number of acres they plant to corn. Growers in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and North Dakota expect to increase their corn acreage by 400,000 or more acres in 2016.

“In contrast, U.S. soybean growers expect to reverse the recent trends, which saw several record-high years. In 2016, growers expect to plant 82.2 million acres to soybeans, a less than one percent decrease from 2015.”

Jesse Newman reported yesterday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “Struggling U.S. farmers plan this year to sow their fields with extra corn in a high-stakes gamble to counter sliding prices by selling even more of the grain…Many domestic farmers are grappling with the fallout from three years of declining crop prices and trying to grow their way out of the industry’s slump, even as farm income is expected to drop for a third year, with the forecast $54.8 billion less than half the record in 2013.”

The Journal article noted that, “Corn prices tumbled to a nearly three-month low, dropping 4.2% to $3.51 ½ a bushel.”

Ms. Newman also pointed out that, “The agency’s quarterly report on U.S. grain inventory said corn stockpiles on March 1 totaled 7.81 billion bushels, up from 7.75 billion bushels on the same date last year, and the highest in nearly three decades.”

Christopher Doering reported in today’s Des Moines Register that, “Agriculture remains mired in a stubbornly long period of low commodity prices that has left some producers struggling to cover their costs and forced many to cut back on inputs such as seed and fertilizer to save money. Other farmers have restructured loans or refinanced them against other equity resources so they have enough cash to operate.”

Iowa State University agricultural economist Chad Hart noted yesterday that, “Given trend yields of 168 bushels per acre for corn and 46.7 bushels per acre for soybeans, the projected acreage points to another round of massive crops. Corn production would reach 14.38 billion bushels, which would be another record corn crop. Soybean production would approach 3.8 billion bushels, which would be the 3rd largest soybean crop in history. And for markets already dealing with large supplies, these prospective plantings do not help. So the markets will be looking for Mother Nature to slow the supply train down.”

University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good spoke about the USDA reports in a radio interview yesterday (see box for audio link).

And, Dr. Good and Scott Irwin, also of the University of Illinois, held a detailed webinar looking into the yesterday’s USDA reports this morning.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported yesterday that, “Inflation-adjusted farm incomes in Minnesota fell to their lowest point in 20 years in 2015 despite record crop yields and this year’s outlook is also grim, according to an annual analysis released Thursday.

“A major factor was the continued decline in commodity prices, the report from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and University of Minnesota Extension said. Unlike 2014, when livestock producers had a very good year, both crop and livestock farms struggled last year.”

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