U.S. farmers will be planting more corn and soybeans in 2020, with a rebound in acreage after last year’s record-wet season and prevented plantings.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Prospective Plantings Report showed farmers intend to plant 97 million acres of corn, up from the 89.7 million acres planted in 2019.
Jim McCormick with Agmarket.net says he is doubtful farmers will plant that many corn acres, especially with the large pullback in the corn market since the surveys were conducted at the beginning of March. Since then, the coronavirus pandemic and the OPEC oil price war has resulted in 18-year lows in crude oil, sharply lower unleaded gas prices and record low ethanol prices. This has had a negative impact, as many ethanol plants have slowed production or stopped it completely, which will result in a huge drop in corn demand. It already has weakened cash basis levels more than 45 cents at some locations around plants.
“The economics just won’t support farmers planting that much corn, plus many farmers have lost their line of credit with the bank to plant corn,” he says.
Farmers are also expected to plant 83.5 million acres of soybeans in the new season, up from 76.1 million acres last year. However, this figure was below the trade expectations and USDA’s baseline projection of 85 million in February. McCormick says he thinks farmers are already shifting some acres from corn to soybeans. Soybeans have rallied off their lows and are looking more profitable long term, especially with lower input costs and the increased demand for soybean meal, which has helped support the market. Soybean meal demand is coming from logistical issues in South America tied to COVID-19 and meal is being added back to the ration with less dry distillers grains being produced at ethanol plants.
All-wheat acreage is forecast at 100-year lows at 44.66 million acres, which is down from 45.2 million in 2019. Winter wheat acres were pegged at 30.78 million, a slight drop from 31.2 million last year and spring wheat acreage came in at 12.59 million acres also down from 12.66 million in 2019.
USDA also released quarterly stocks figures, with soybean stockpiles at 2.25 billion bushels, down 474 million bushels compared to last year. The corn number was also encouraging with a 660 million bushel drop versus 2019 to 7.953 billion bushel. McCormick says that drawdown is largely a function of less corn acres being harvested, increased feed demand from more livestock, and the lower test weight corn. Quarterly stocks on wheat also shrank versus a year ago by 181 million bushels, currently at 1.412 billion bushels.