Could be record year for bean acres

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WASHINGTON – The high cost of fuel and fertilizer is pushing U.S. farmers to switch from corn to less input-intensive crops such as soybeans in 2006.
According to the Prospective Plantings report released March 31 by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, producers plan to plant 78 million acres of corn in 2006, down 5 percent from 2005.
Meanwhile, they intend to plant a record-high 76.9 million acres of soybeans, up 7 percent.
Big shift in Illinois. Expected corn acreage is down in most states, the NASS report shows. Illinois expects the largest decline with 700,000 fewer acres, a 6 percent drop from last year’s record level.
The only states showing increases from last year are North Dakota, Arizona and Utah, while Minnesota remains unchanged from a year ago.
Corn growers in the United States intend to plant 78 million acres of corn in 2006. If realized, this would be the lowest corn acreage since 2001.
Soybean intentions. Soybean producers intend to plant 76.9 million acres in 2006, the largest planted area on record. Acreage increases are expected in all growing areas, except in the central and southern Atlantic Coast states and the southern Great Plains.
The largest increase is in North Dakota, with a 41 percent jump to a record-high 4.15 million acres.
Significant growth in soybean acreage is also expected across the Corn Belt, including Illinois, with a 6 percent increase to 10.1 million acres, and Indiana, with a 9 percent jump to 5.9 million acres.
Wheat a mixed bag. All wheat planted area is expected to total 57.1 million acres, down slightly from 2005. Winter wheat acreage is up 2 percent, while spring wheat is down 1 percent.
Intended durum wheat planted area is 1.83 million acres, down 34 percent from the previous year. If realized, this will be the lowest durum wheat acreage since 1961.
U.S. cotton producers intend to plant 14.6 million acres in 2006, 3 percent more than last year. Upland cotton area is expected to total 14.3 million acres, also up 3 percent. American-Pima cotton growers intend to increase their plantings 24 percent from 2005, to a record 334,000 acres.
NASS reports that U.S. acreage planted to oats will increase 2 percent in 2006. Sorghum and hay acreage are virtually unchanged.

SIDEBAR:
Look for more beans in Ohio and Pennsylvania
WASHINGTON – Based on the USDA’s March 1 prospective plantings survey, Ohio farmers intend to reduce the amount of corn acreage in 2006 while increasing both winter wheat and soybean acreage.
Ohio soybean acreage is forecast at 4.65 million acres for 2006, up 150,000 acres from last year.
If realized, USDA reports this will be the largest amount of soybean acreage in Ohio since 2002 when an estimated 4.75 million acres were planted.
Ohio corn producers intend to plant 3.15 million acres this spring, down 300,000 acres from 2005 and the lowest corn acres planted in the Buckeye State since 1996 when an estimated 3 million acres were planted.
Winter wheat acreage for 2006 is estimated at 990,000 acres, 130,000 acres more than was seeded the previous year.
The state’s oat acreage is expected to total 70,000 acres this coming year, down 10,000 acres.
Ohio hay producers expect to harvest a total of 1.20 million acres, unchanged from the previous year. This includes alfalfa, grain, and all other types of hay.
Burley tobacco acreage is forecast at 3,100 acres in 2006, down 300 acres from 2005, and 2,500 less than was harvested in 2004. The elimination of the federal tobacco program is the main reason for Ohio’s declining tobacco acreage.
Pa. forecast. Pennsylvania farmers intend to plant more acres of soybeans this spring, and planted more acres of winter wheat last fall than a year ago.
Soybean acreage planting intentions are 450,000 acres, 5 percent more than in 2005.
All wheat planted, at 160,000 acres, is up 7 percent from last year, and 14 percent above the 2004 planted acres. Oat planting intended acreage is 135,000, down 4 percent from last year, but up 4 percent from 2004.
Intended plantings of corn are 1.27 million acres, down 80,000 acres from last year and 9 percent below two years ago.
Harvest intentions for all dry hay in 2006 are estimated at 1.6 million acres, unchanged from last year’s harvest.

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