Farmers are expected to plant more corn, soybeans, and wheat acres than last year, but official estimates from a USDA report released Wednesday came in below trade expectations, which sent futures prices soaring. 

Corn planted acres are up 1.87 million acres from last year at 92.7 million acres, according to the June Acreage report. Soybeans planted are estimated at 87.6 million acres, up 5% from a year ago. All wheat planted acres are estimated at 46.7 million acres, up 5% from 2020. All cotton planted area is at 11.7 million acres down 3% from last year.

Officials noted in the report “the estimates are based on data provided by respondents who were contacted between May 29 and June 17. Corn left to be planted was 2.18 million acres. Soybeans left to be planted was 9.84 million acres.”

Grain traders were expecting corn planted acres in the June report to come in at 93.7 million acres and soybeans at 89 million acres; both projections were higher than USDA’s actual estimates, which caused corn futures to rise 40 cents, its daily trading limit, and soybean futures jumped 85 cents at midday.

University of Missouri extension economist Ben Brown said there were good planting conditions across the Corn Belt in April and May.

“For the majority of the Corn Belt, the planting window early on signaled favorable conditions to continue to plant and when that is the case, we do see an impact on corn acres,” he told Agri-Pulse.

He said the new crop corn and soybean prices rising earlier this Spring also contributed to the acreage increase.

“The old crop soybean price getting above $7 I think caught people’s attention and the new crop corn price getting above $6 caught people’s attention,” he noted.

In March, USDA’s Prospective Plantings report estimated farmers would plant 91.1 million acres of corn and 87.6 million acres of soybeans. Officials estimated wheat acres to be 46.4 million acres three months ago.

Brown said the slightly higher adjustment for corn acres leaves little potential gap between supply and demand, especially if dryness and drought expand.

“Some (crops) are planted in unfavorable conditions, it is dry, (and they’re) facing heat stress. If that continues to expand, we could be looking at a very tight corn market with rapidly increasing corn prices,” Brown stated.

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According to USDA, little or no rain is expected over the next 5 days across the northern Plains and northern Corn Belt. Most of the Western U.S. will also stay dry, other than the occasional rain shower in the central and southern Rockies.

USDA on Wednesday also released the Grain Stocks report.

USDA estimated corn stocks as of June 1 at 4.11 billion bushels. This is lower than the average trade guess of 4.2 billion bushels and less last year’s total of 5 billion bushels.

Soybean stocks are estimated at 766 million bushels, well below last year’s 1.3 billion bushels. Traders guessed that number would come in at 787 million bushels. All old crop wheat totaled 844 million bushels, which is 18% lower than last year.

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