This week’s highly anticipated Prospective Plantings report from USDA offers the first indication of what we can expect from the 2013 corn crop. As expected with corn prices as high as they are, farmers intend to seed a lot of acres to corn – 97.3 million acres by USDA’s survey-based estimates. That estimate is up slightly from last year’s corn acreage and would represent the highest U.S. planted acreage since 1936.

Last year, of course, farmers also planted historically large acreage to corn, but severe drought reduced average yields to around 123 bushels per acre, resulting in a harvest of 10.8 billion bushels that fell well below expectations.

If average yields this year return to a more normal trend line around 152 bushels per acre, we’ll see a big jump in production. Last year, farmers harvested about 7.6 percent of the corn crop as silage, according to USDA. If that trend continues this year, about 89.9 million acres of corn could be harvested for grain. At 152 bushels per acre, total production would be around 13.7 billion bushels.

Over the past 20 years, actual planted corn acres exceeded the estimate in the Prospective Plantings report 12 times and fell short of the forecast in eight years.

The report also projects sorghum acres at 7.62 million, up 22 percent from last year.

Producers intend to harvest 56.4 million acres of all hay in 2013, up slightly from 2012.

For soybeans, farmers intend to plant 77.1 million acres in 2013, down slightly from last year but up 3 percent from 2011.

View the full Prospective Plantings report from USDA.