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May 7, 2014

USDA's 2014 U.S. Total Acreage Numbers may be Too Small

At the present time, it does not look like we will have as many prevent plant acres as last year and as a result; the total "acreage pie" currently being used by the USDA may be 1-2 million acres too small. The amount of prevent plant acres won't become clear until later in June, but for now, it doesn't look as bad as last year. If the overall acreage is too small, then the question becomes will farmers plant more corn and/or more soybeans than what was indicated in the March Prospective Planting Report.

Currently, I would allocate more of the potential missing acres to soybeans than to corn due to the delayed start to corn planting and the continuing cool temperatures in the northern Corn Belt. Some of the intended corn acreage in the northwestern Corn Belt may not get planted (maybe 500,000 acres), but that may be compensated for by more corn being planted elsewhere (maybe 1,000,000 acres). Therefore, the 2014 U.S. corn acreage may end up a half a million acres greater than the 91.69 million acres indicated in the March report.

For soybeans though, there is a distinct possibility that the acreage could surpass the 81.49 million acres indicated in the March report. The increased acreage could come from the overall larger "acreage pie" and the switching of some of the intended corn acreage and spring wheat acreage in the northern Corn Belt to additional soybean acreage. Currently, I would estimate that the 2014 U.S. soybean acreage might increase 1,000,000 acres above the March estimate.

Even though the acreage estimates may be in flux, I think it is way too early to speculate about fluctuations in potential crop yields. I would continue to anticipate the 2014 U.S. corn yield at 163 to 165 bu/ac and the U.S. soybean yield at 44 to 45 bu/ac.