Production prospects for corn and soybean in the United States in 2013 will hinge primarily on the nature of the growing season and yield prospects, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good. The magnitude of planted acreage, however, will provide the basis for anticipating total production. Likely acreage has been the topic of discussion all winter, with projections in a fairly wide range.
Good said that anticipating planted acreage of the two crops is complicated by a number of factors. The first issue is the magnitude of acreage available for planting of all spring crops. Some additional cropland acreage has become available in 2013 due to fewer acres being enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. That acreage is reported at 27.04 million acres, 2.62 million fewer than enrolled last year.
“How much of that reduction will be planted to crops in 2013 is not known,” Good said. “Winter wheat seedings reported by the USDA in January were nearly 600,000 acres larger than seedings of a year ago. The acreage of soft red winter wheat is up about 1.3 million acres, while seedings of other classes of wheat were less than those of a year earlier. Some of the increase in soft red winter wheat acreage may be double-cropped with soybeans. The condition of the hard red winter wheat crop going into dormancy this winter was generally quite poor. While ratings have improved somewhat, the poor condition suggests that more than the normal amount of that acreage may be abandoned. Depending on moisture conditions going forward, some abandoned acres may get replanted to other crops this spring,” he said.
Additionally, the acreage of spring-planted crops will be influenced by spring weather conditions and the magnitude of prevented plantings, Good reported. Prevented planted acres totaled only 1.24 million acres in 2012, after being quite large in 2009, 2010, and 2011. In those three years, prevented plantings were reported at 4.18 million, 6.89 million, and 9.62 million acres, respectively. Prospects for prevented planting this year once again focus on the northern Plains states, where snow cover suggests the potential for spring flooding. An increase in prevented plantings would presumably reduce the total acreage planted this spring. The potential magnitude of that acreage will not be known for several weeks.
The second issue surrounding acreage is the share of the total available acreage that will be planted to individual crops. “In general, it is believed that corn and soybeans will be very competitive with cotton and rice acreage in the Delta and portions of the Southeast,” Good said. “As a result, corn and soybeans are expected to garner a larger share of the acreage pie in those areas. In the northern Plains states, the relevant competition will be between spring wheat, corn, soybeans, and other oilseed crops. The outcome of that competition may be mostly a function of spring weather,” he said.