A crop report issued today by the Agriculture Department indicates that America's farmers are preparing to plant 91.7 million acres of corn, 4 percent less than a year ago and the lowest amount planted to corn since 2010, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
"The forecast gives us an indication of what farmers intend to plant but everything depends on the weather," said AFBF crops economist Todd Davis. "It remains to be seen whether or not farmers can plant their corn and soybeans in a timely fashion without a repeat of the problems seen in 2013 in the Western Corn Belt," he said.
According to Davis, if realized, this year's corn planting would be the fifth-largest corn crop since 1944. With 91.7 million acres planted and average yields, final 2014 U.S. corn production is forecast to come in between 13.2 and 13.4 billion bushels.
The soybean planting estimate came in at 81.5 million acres, a 6-percent increase from the 2013 crop. If realized, this would be a record number of soybean acres planted, Davis noted. Likewise, the final U.S. soybean production could set a record of between 3.4 and 3.5 billion bushels.
"The current record for production of soybeans-3.36 billion bushels-was set in 2009. If Mother Nature cooperates, 2014 could exceed this level," Davis said.
USDA's March 1 survey of grain stocks pegged the nation's corn inventory at 7 billion bushels, up 30 percent compared to a year ago, while soybean stocks were measured at 992 million bushels, down 1 percent from a year prior. Both of these numbers were consistent with pre-report trade estimates.
Acreage of other feed grains is projected to be down from last year as well, with grain sorghum, and oat plantings forecast to be down by 17 percent, and 7 percent, respectively. Barley acreage is expected to decline 9 percent.
Wheat plantings are projected to be down 1 percent from last year. Cotton plantings are projected at 11 million acres, 7 percent higher than last year.