The news that this year’s winter wheat seedings would be just 36.61 million acres caught the market off guard last week, which had predicted a smaller drop in acreage for the crop.
“People expected a few less wheat acres, but not that many less wheat acres,” said Steve Nicholson of Rabobank, speaking on U.S. Farm Report. “We are talking almost 3 million acres.”
It leads analysts to start looking ahead to this spring and farmers’ planting decisions.
“You wonder what that means for this upcoming growing season. You wonder if that might mean we see acreage down as whole,” mused Ted Seifried of Zaner Ag. “A lot of analysts were looking for an increase in corn acres, but now (people) might start to question that a little bit. In the weeks to come, we might start to have a little bit of a positive narrative when we start talking about corn acres.”
Craig VanDyke of Top Third Ag agreed.
“We’re starting to see a shift in wheat acreage,” VanDyke noted. “Is that shift going to spill into corn, into soybeans over the next two, three months? I think that carries some of the most weight. Are guys actually going to start pulling back? Are we going to start seeing more CRP? Are we going to see the guys get down to more specialty crops? That’s going to bring our acreage numbers down, but globally, we’ve continued to grow these acres more and more.”
But Nicholson still believes that corn will prove an appealing choice for farmers this spring.
“I do think we’ll see more corn acres this year, because if you look at the potential for yield and revenue per acre, corn has the most potential,” the Rabobank analyst said. “If you look back to 1960, corn yield has gone up over 200% whereas soybean and wheat yields are (up) less than 100% over that time…. So corn has the biggest potential and right now, farmers are (asking), ‘What can we do to produce revenue on the farm?’ I think we’ll see more corn acres when all is said and done.”
In 2015, growers planted 87.999 million acres of corn and 82.65 million acres of soybeans, according to USDA’s annual crop production data released in January.