Planting crops fotokostic/ThinkstockPhotos

Growers still plan to push soybeans

Latest Farm Futures survey finds acreage shifts in play in challenging year.

Growers hope to plant another record soybean crop this spring while scaling back corn acres, according to Farm Futures latest survey of intentions for 2017.

Producers said they expect to plant nearly 89 million acres to soybeans, up 6.6% from the all-time high set in 2016. Corn ground would fall 3.9% to 90.3 million acres.

In addition to switching some corn fields, more wheat and sorghum ground could see soybeans this spring if weather permits. The survey found all-wheat acreage could be down 8.7% to just 45.8 million, the lowest since at least World War I. Growers confirmed the cut in winter wheat acres reported in January by USDA, and also said they will cut spring seeded classes too. The survey put spring wheat acreage at 11.3 million, down 3%, with durum off 10.5% to 2.2 million.

Farm Futures put sorghum plantings at 6.2 million, down 7.7% from 2016.

The only crop other than soybeans to attract more planters this fall should be cotton, which benefited from rising prices over the past year. Farmers hope to plant 12.3 million acres this spring, up 22% from 2016.

USDA releases its Prospective Plantings report March 31, when estimates of March 1 Grain Stocks also come out. Farm Futures put corn stocks at 8.548 billion bushels, up 726 million from a year ago. Soybean stocks could be a hefty 1.695 billion, up 164 million bushels, with wheat inventories at 1.614 billion bushels headed into the final quarter of the marketing year, up 242 million from last year.

Record 2016 yields of all three crops swelled inventories. The corn and wheat stocks would be the most in three decades, with soybean supplies March 1 at 10-year highs.

The Farm Futures survey found growers had 31% of their 2016 corn crop still in on-farm storage, close to the percentage USDA reported for March 2016. Growers still had 17% of their soybeans on the farm, 5% less than USDA reported a year ago. Farmers were fairly aggressive sellers of soybeans this year, thanks to prices that moved to profitable levels.

More than 1,200 growers responded to the Farm Futures survey, which was conducted March 6-23. Growers received an email invitation to fill out the survey online. Since 2010 the survey has averaged a 1.2% difference from USDA’s March estimates for corn, with a 2% difference for soybeans. Growers from 44 states responded to the survey, which is weighted to correct for geographical variances.


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