Planted acreage of non-hay crops declined by 7.054 million acres in 2001, and most analysts have expected a significant increase in planted acres this year, as long as weather allows.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's March Prospective Plantings report, released on March 28, 2002, indicates that planted acreage of non-hay crops will increase by only 309,000 acres in 2002. Including harvested acreage of hay, crop land area is expected to increased by 541,000 acres. The reasons for the permanent decline in crop land acreage are not completely known, but likely include expanded acreage in conservation programs and idling of low yielding land due to low returns, says University of Illinois Extension Economist Darrel Good

The Prospective Plantings report reveals intentions to increase planted area of corn by nearly 3.3 million acres, to reduce sorghum area by 1.237 million acres and to reduce wheat area by 613,000 acres Dr. Good notes. The 3.3 million acre increase in intentions for corn plantings follows a decline of 3.8 million in 2001.

If planted acreage of corn totals 79.047 million acres in 2002, as indicated in the March report, acreage harvested for grain should be near 72.15 million acres, assuming a favorable growing season. Dr. Good calculates that at that level of acreage, a trend yield in 2002 would produce a crop in excess of 10 billion bushels. A crop of that size would allow a 3 percent increase in corn use during the 2002-03 marketing year without reducing year ending stocks below 1.5 billion bushels. For Dr. Good’s weekly report, go to: