Posted: July 1, 2011
The surprisingly high planted acreage report from USDA shows just how fast farmers can overcome Mother Nature with the latest technology.
According to USDA, corn planted area for this year is now estimated at 92.3 million acres, up 5 percent from last year. That’s more than growers expected to plant back in March and the second highest planted acreage in the United States since 1944.
“These numbers show that a spring delay in the northern hemisphere, even when severe, if producers get an opening they have the horsepower and technology to make up for it in a big way and on a very large scale,” said James Bower from Bower Trading during a market commentary conference call this morning from the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. “Particularly in Ohio and Indiana, we were really getting close to prevent plant, one or two more rains and that was it. But we had about a four day window in late May and with the horsepower and technology, those farmers worked day and night.”
Farmers in Ohio planted 40% of their acreage in one week between June 5-12 so that essentially all of the corn nationwide was planted by June 12. Ohio had only 11% planted by May 23 compared to 87% the same time last year.
Between flooding and lots of rain, Lance Honig with USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service says most people were expected to see a decrease in corn acreage. “In reality, what we saw was especially in some of those areas not impacted by weather, they really planted a lot more corn than they thought they might.” That included significant increases in actual planted acres over intentions for Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.
Of course, it is still early in the season, and American Farm Bureau Federation crops economist Todd Davis says 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.”
USDA also released the June 1 corn stocks estimate today, which was also higher than expectations but still down 15% from last year at 3.67 billion bushels. Based on USDA’s latest projections of average corn yield (158.7 bushels/acre) and anticipated harvested acres (84.9 million), it would mean a 2011 harvest of 13.47 billion bushels – nearly 300 million more bushels of corn than USDA was projecting in its most recent supply/demand estimates. That would certainly help to re-build stocks and continue to meet the food and fuel demands of the world.