Corn plantings up 5% year-over-year to 92.3 million acres, USDA's June acreage report says, exceeding analyst expectations; corn crop shows potential for 13.47 billion bushels needed to rebuild stocks, meet feed and fuel demand: AFBF

WASHINGTON , June 30, 2011 (press release) – Farmers across the country are scratching their heads over an acreage report released today by the Agriculture Department showing a whopping 92.3 million acres of U.S. corn plantings this year. Most expected less acreage due to adverse weather conditions that delayed planting over much of the Corn Belt.

Todd Davis, crops economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, said today’s USDA acreage report signals a potential U.S. corn crop of 13.47 billion bushels, which will be needed to re-build stocks and meet feed and fuel demand. But he cautions that a lot can happen to the corn crop from now until harvest.

“We have a lot of hurdles to jump to reach a harvest of 13.47 billion bushels of corn this year,” Davis said. “The weather throughout the Corn Belt will have to cooperate in July and August for farmers to get strong yields and we would have to harvest the 84.8 million acres projected in the June 30 acreage survey.”

Still, Davis said today’s acreage report released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service caught everyone by surprise. Most analysts were expecting USDA to peg corn plantings anywhere from 89.5 million acres to 91.5 million acres.

“I don’t think anybody was expecting more than 92 million corn acres this year,” Davis said. “From the coffee shops to the trading floor, everybody you talked to expected USDA to reduce its corn acreage from the March 31 prospective plantings report because of all the weather headaches farmers are having this year. USDA actually moved up its 2011 corn acreage slightly from its March 31 prospective plantings forecast.”

If realized, the 92.3 million acre U.S. corn crop will be 5 percent larger than last year when 88.19 million acres were planted. U.S. corn acreage planted in 2011 would be the second-highest since 1944, behind only the 93.5 million acres planted in 2007.

“The market was signaling a need for more corn acres this year and farmers responded,” Davis said. “Most of the acreage gains are coming from the western Corn Belt. USDA found more acres in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. This off-set the reduced acreage in the eastern Corn Belt.”

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