Minn. growers to take part in second largest planting since WWII

written by Jonathan Eisenthal

World demand and domestic value-added enterprise have created a strong market for US corn growers, who plan to plant nearly 92.2 million acres of corn this year–a 4.5 percent increase over last year, and the second largest crop since 1944 (2007 planted acres were 93.5 million).

Markets responded to the news with a strong upward bound for corn prices and futures contracts.

According to the 2011 USDA Planting Intentions report, Minnesota growers fully intend to join in this trend, increasing corn planting in the north star state by 300,000 acres over last year, for a total of 7.9 million acres.

“The market is sending as strong a signal as possible and the farmers are responding,” said Greg Schwarz, a farmer in Le Sueur, Minnesota and president of Minnesota Corn Growers Association. “Thanks to the variety of important uses for our farm products, we have a price that supports farmers. We can’t underestimate the importance of this market strength. The world is adding a whole Germany every year to the world population, and it will do that for the next forty years. U.S. farmers are ready. Each U.S. farmer feeds an average of 144 people, according to the latest statistics.”

Though U.S. producers plan to plant one percent fewer acres to soybeans compared to last year’s record planting, Minnesota growers are holding steady, intending to plant 7.4 million acres to soybeans.

“Despite increased plantings for most major field crops as reported in today’s Prospective Plantings report, the March 1 Grain Stocks report indicates continued strong demand and usage for these commodities. This suggests the current tight supply situation will continue into 2011 and 2012,” USDA Chief Economist Joseph Glauber wrote in his introduction to the report.

The Prospective Plantings report estimates farmers will plant 3.89 million (8.2 percent) more wheat acres, and 1.59 million (15 percent) more cotton acres than last year. Total planted area for all 21 major crops will be 323.8 million acres, a 7.09 million (2.2 percent) increase from 2010 but still 1.21 million acres below the 2008 total.

“As we move forward to meet the needs of the earth’s growing population, we need to maintain the strong partnership between farmers and agribusiness that has allowed farmers to achieve this kind of success,” said Schwarz. “And we need to maintain a government safety net, in the form of crop insurance and other guarantees, that will allow us to go out and plant with confidence. When we keep these elements of the US farm program in place, it ensures our ability to produce as much volume as our customers can use. American farmers have proved our ability to cover the needs of every buyer.”

In Minnesota, however, it may be a little while before planters come out of the sheds, with cool air temperatures and lingering snow cover keeping soil temperatures well below the 50 Degree Fahrenheit reading in soil where corn seed can germinate.

“Despite increased plantings for most major field crops as reported in March 31’s Prospective Plantings report, the March 1 Grain Stocks report indicates continued strong demand and usage for these commodities. This suggests the current tight supply situation will continue into 2011 and 2012,” said USDA Chief Economist, Joseph Glauber.

The largest increase in corn-planted acreage in 2011 is expected in South Dakota where growers intend to plant an additional 850,000 acres compared to last year when wet field conditions during planting prevented many from getting all of their intended acreage seeded. Iowa and North Dakota acreage is expected to increase 500,000 and 450,000 acres respectively. The largest decrease in planted acreage is expected in Texas, down 150,000 acres due to an increase in cotton acreage.

The 2011 wheat planted area is estimated at 58.0 million acres. Of this, 41.2 million acres is winter wheat planted area, 10 percent above last year and up 1 percent from the previous estimate.

Cotton acreage increases are expected in every state, for a total of 12.6 million acres, 15 percent above last year. The largest increase, at 548,000 acres, is expected in Texas. Acreage increases of more than 100,000 acres are expected in North Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi.

Soybean acreage planting is expected to be 76.6 million acres, down 1 percent from last year, for the third largest on record. Compared with last year’s record planting intentions, declines of 100,000 acres or more are expected in Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska and Ohio. If realized, the planted area in New York and North Dakota will be the largest on record at 1.5 million and 4.35 acres respectively.

Prospective Plantings provides the first official, survey-based estimates of U.S. farmers’ 2011 planting intentions for corn, all wheat, winter wheat, durum wheat, other spring wheat, oats, barley, flaxseed, cotton, rice by length of grain classes, oats, all sorghum, sweet potatoes, dry edible beans, soybeans, sunflower, peanuts, and sugarbeets; acreage for harvest of hay and tobacco. NASS surveyed approximately 85,000 farm operators across the United States from Feb. 26 to March 17, 2011. NASS will publish data on actual planted area in the Acreage report, to be released June 30 at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

NASS also released the quarterly Grain Stocks report today, showing corn stocks in all positions at 6.52 billion bushels as of March 1. This is down 15 percent from last year. Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1 totaled 1.25 billion bushels, down 2 percent from a year ago, while all wheat stored totaled 1.42 billion bushels, up 5 percent from March 1, 2010. Rough rice stocks in all positions on March 1, 2011 totaled 121 million hundredweight, up 16 percent from the same time last year.

Prospective Plantings, Grain Stocks and all NASS reports are available online at http://www.nass.usda.gov.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

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