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March 22, 2017

Potential 2017 U.S. Crop Acreage Estimates edge Higher

The USDA will issue their Prospective Plantings Report on March 31st. This is their first acreage estimate based on farmer surveys and there is always a lot of speculation at this time of the year as to what the report may say.

Up to this point, all we have are the acreage estimates released during the Outlook Forum last month which indicated that U.S. farmers may plant 90 million acres of corn in 2017 and 88 million acres of soybeans. If anything, I think the 2017 corn and soybean acreage in the U.S. might end up being slightly higher than what was reported in the Outlook Forum last month.

Currently, I would estimate the 2017 U.S. corn acreage in the range of 91 million acres and the soybean acreage in the range of 89 million acres. My basis for anticipating more planted acres that the Outlook Forum is the possibility that we may have an early spring planting this year. The weather could change of course, but right now it looks like it could be a good spring for planting which could result in fewer prevent plant acres, thus more acres planted of both crops. In other words, the overall acreage pie gets bigger if there is less prevent plant.

What could throw a "wrench into the works" might be the weather in North Dakota, South Dakota, and northwestern Minnesota. If there is delay in planting spring wheat and corn in the northwestern Corn Belt, my feeling is that farmers could quickly abandon some of their intended wheat and corn acres for soybeans instead. In a worst case scenario in which cold and wet weather significantly delays the spring planting in the northwestern Corn Belt, the United States could actually end up with more soybean acres than corn acres in 2017.

Some early corn planting is already underway in the more southern locations. Generally the corn is being planted approximately one week earlier than last year. Louisiana is reporting that 35% of the corn has been planted (average is 23%), Texas has planted 31% of the corn (average is 27%) and Mississippi is reporting that 4% of the corn has been planted (average is 6%).