Prospective Plantings: Swing To Secondary Crops?

With continued uncertainty around trade, sizeable stocks, flooding in the Midwest and fertilizer costs, will corn and soybeans keep all of these projected acres? ( AgWeb )

Of the nearly 320 million acres dedicated to growing crops in the U.S., around 70% is consumed by corn, soybeans and wheat. In 2018, the top three crops comprised 226.1 million acres. Current projections show a slight decrease for this year, with 224 million acres dedicated to corn, soybeans and wheat.

“The lower acreage estimate implies either a drop in principal crop acreage or an increase in acreage for other crops in 2019,” says Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois agricultural economist. 

Friday’s Prospective Plantings report will provide guidance on which crops will gain how many acres in 2019. The average pre-report trade estimates call for corn acreage at 91.3 million, soybeans at 86.2 million acres and wheat at 46.9 million acres. 

However, with continued uncertainty around trade, sizeable stocks, flooding in the Midwest and fertilizer costs, will corn and soybeans keep all of these projected acres?

Naomi Blohm, Stewart-Peterson senior market adviser, expects to see significant changes in secondary crops, such as sorghum, cotton and sugar beets.

“I’m looking for higher acres of sugar beets, sunflowers, canola, barley and pinto/navy beans in North Dakota this year, and less soybean acres there due to lost soybean export demand in North Dakota to the Pacific Northwest for export overseas,” Blohm says.

Some farmers could shift away from hard red winter wheat to sorghum or cotton in certain areas like Kansas, says Alan Brugler, Brugler Marketing & Management president.

Last year, acres dedicated to secondary crops included:

  • Cotton: 14 million 
  • Sorghum: 5.69 million
  • Rice: 2.95 million
  • Oats: 2.75 million
  • Barley: 2.54 million
  • Dry Edible Beans: 2.08 million
  • Rye: 2.01 million
  • Canola: 1.99 million
  • Peanuts: 1.43 million
  • Sunflowers: 1.30 million
  • Sugar Beets: 1.11 million

Unsuitable planting weather could also shave of acreage totals for crops. Brugler says fewer total planted acres could be likely in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, and Missouri, due to increased prevent plant acres.

Yet, other analysts don’t believe this year’s spring flooding will dramatically affect final acreage.

“As of now, we don’t expect significant acreage shifts,” says Richard Brock, Brock Associates president. “The South has dried out and planting progressing. The Midwest still has plenty of time.”

Farmers in the South have been planting spring crops.

“Recent dryness in the Delta is clearly a net positive as its helping with field work, planting and the wheat crop is drying out,” says Kevin McNew, Farmers Business Network’s chief economist

As of this week, around half of the Louisiana corn crop is in the ground, which is ahead of the five-year average of 35%, McNew says. Additionally, 18% of the Mississippi’s corn crop has been planted, which is also ahead of the five-year average of 13%.

USDA will release its 2019 Prospective Plantings report at 11 a.m. CDT on Friday, March 29.

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