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April 3, 2019

USDA Report may Overestimate Corn, Underestimate Soy Acreage

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The 2019 Prospective Plantings Report released last Friday will now set the stage for ideas about the 2019 corn and soybean acreage in the U.S. The 2019 U.S. corn planted acreage was estimated at 92.8 million acres, which is up 4% or 3.66 million acres more than in 2018 (89.1 million acres). Prior to the report, the average market guess was 91.3 million acres, so this was 1.5 million acres more than the average guess.

The 2019 U.S. soybean planted acreage was estimated at 84.6 million acres, which is down 5% or 4.57 million acres less than in 2018 (89.1 million acres).. Prior to the report, the average market guess was 86.3 million acres, so this is 1.7 million acres less than the average guess.

All wheat planted acreage for 2019 was estimated at 45.8 million acres, which is down 4% from 2018 and the lowest wheat acreage since records started in 1919. All cotton acreage for 2019 was estimated at 13.8 million acres, which is down 2% compared to 2018.

My initial reaction is that these estimates probably overestimated the eventual corn acreage and underestimated the eventual soybean acreage. Granted, during the timeframe when the survey was conducted, the general sentiment was more negative toward soybeans given the trade dispute between the U.S. and China. But given the current planting conditions in the northwestern Corn Belt and the decline in corn prices after the Prospective Plantings Report was released last Friday, I don't think farmers in North and South Dakota will increase their corn acreage by a combined 1.6 million acres.

My thought right now is that the 2019 corn acreage might be up 1-2 million acres to 90-91 million and the 2019 soybean acreage might be down 2-3 million acres to 86-87 million.

These estimates are tentative because the weather over the next two months will determine the amount of prevent plant acres and eventually the final planted acreage. The five year average for prevent plant acreage in the U.S. is 3.8 million acres and in 2018, there were 1.9 million prevent plant acres. For the last couple of weeks, I thought we might have 4 million prevent plant acres in 2019, but the weather at the end of March was a little better than expected, especially in the northwestern Corn Belt. Therefore, my guess now is that there may be 3-4 million prevent plant acres, maybe even less, it will depend on the weather of course.

There are an estimated 1 million acres of farmland under water in the Midwest with much of that along the Missouri River. If the rainfall during April is not excessive, some of those areas might dry out in time to plant, but I would not hold my breath. A lot of levees have been breached, so it would not take much rainfall to flood those areas again in April or May.