USDA predicts record acreage to corn

Farmers in the United States are expected to plant more acres to corn in 2012 than any year since 1937.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) on Friday released its Prospective Plantings report, pegging expected U.S. corn acres in 2012 at 95.9 million, up four per cent from 2011.

"If realized, this will be the largest corn acreage in the United States since 1937, when producers planted 97.2 acres of corn," NASS said in a release.

The report provides USDA’s first official survey-based estimates of U.S. farmers’ 2012 planting intentions, based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March.

Farmers in Iowa, the top U.S. corn-growing state, intend to set a new record for the state by planting 14.6 million acres, up four per cent from 2011. Growers in Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota also intend to plant record-high acreages.

The largest year-over-year increase is expected in North Dakota, where farmers who were flooded out in 2011 expect to plant 3.4 million acres of corn, up 52 per cent from last year.

U.S. soybean growers, meanwhile, intend to plant 73.9 million acres in 2012, down one per cent from 2011, NASS said. Texas and Oklahoma farmers plan significant reductions in soybean acreage, down 24 and 15 per cent respectively from 2011. That said, farmers in New York and North Dakota are expected to set new records for soy acres.

U.S. area seeded to wheat is expected to touch 55.9 million acres, up three per cent from 2011. The 2012 winter wheat planted area, at 41.7 million acres, is up three per cent from last year but down one per cent from the previous estimate.

Of the winter wheat total, about 29.9 million acres are hard red winter, 8.4 million acres soft red winter, and 3.5 million acres white winter. Area seeded to other spring wheat for 2012 is estimated at 12 million acres, down three per cent from 2011. The report calls for 11.3 million acres seeded to hard red spring wheat and — up 62 per cent from 2011 — 2.22 million acres to durum.

Also affected by difficult weather conditions, U.S. cotton growers expect to plant 13.2 million acres, down 11 per cent from last year, the report said.

Heavy precipitation in the Delta region has already delayed fieldwork in some areas, NASS said, noting the mild winter in some cotton-growing states has producers bracing for potentially higher than normal insect and weed pressure.

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