WASHINGTON, June 30, 2016 – U.S. farmers have once again planted corn and soybeans at or near historic highs, according to Department of Agriculture estimates released on Thursday.

The report, released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, boosted planting estimates even higher than figures released in March. The planted corn area is estimated at 94.1 million acres, up 7 percent from last year’s actual plantings and an increase of about 500,000 acres from March projection. This would be the third-highest planted acreage since 1944.

Soybean acreage was estimated at the highest ever. NASS says 83.7 million acres were sown, a 1 percent increase from last year and up 1.5 million acres from the March projection. Record high planted acreage is estimated in seven states: Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

In other commodities, wheat planted acreage (50.8 million acres) was down 7 percent from 2015, but cotton acreage is estimated at 10 million acres, up 17 percent.

Don Roose with U.S. Commodities told Agri-Pulse that the industry was most surprised by the increase in corn acres, saying that soybean figures were fairly close to expectations.

“If you look at it, really what we had was decent weather when we were planting corn and a producer wanted to plant corn and he did at the expense of soybeans,” he said. “We did bring back acres into production in this report much like we thought, it’s just that we shook them around in a little different way.”

The report added about 3.3 million total acres from the March estimates for corn, soybeans, and wheat.

The estimates in the report were based on farmer surveys taken during the first two weeks of June, well into the planting season. The report in March surveyed farmer intentions.

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In addition to projected acreage figures, NASS also released a quarterly grain stocks report that showed increased supplies of corn, soybeans, and wheat. Corn stocks as of June 1 were increased 6 percent higher than a year earlier, totaling about 4.72 billion bushels. But the real gains were seen in soybean and wheat stocks. Soybean stocks jumped 39 percent from a year earlier to 870 million bushels and wheat stocks experienced a similar ride, going up 30 percent to 981 million bushels.

Roose said the corn and soybean stocks figures were a surprise, and the markets reacted in opposite directions to the news. In the first hour after the release of today’s reports, corn prices were trading about a dime lower, but soybeans were more than 30 cents higher.

Roose credits that to strong anticipated demand in the soybean market.

“We’re about the only ballgame in town as Argentina and Brazil are, for the most part, sold out,” Roose said. “That’s indicative of China still buying beans from us here this late in the season.”

Roose added that it will be important to watch how the weather affects prices going forward, especially as corn moves into pollination.


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