Market ignores flooding, focuses on USDA’s stocks report

Prospective plantings report: USDA expects more corn acres

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planting corn, newly emerged
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

WASHINGTON — Between the ground farmers expect to plant in 2019 and the 2018 (and 2017) crops still in storage, the acreage lost for the 2019 growing season to flooding may not matter.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its prospective planting numbers and grain stocks reports March 29. The agency estimated 2019 corn acreage at 92.8 million acres, up 4 percent or 3.66 million acres from last year. Compared with last year, planted corn acreage is expected to be up or unchanged in 34 of the 48 estimating states, including Ohio.

The U.S. soybean crop is estimated at 84.6 million acres, down 5 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is down or unchanged in 26 of the 29 estimating states.

Pre-flood report

The USDA’s report was based on a survey of approximately 82,400 farm operators during the first two weeks of March, before the severe weather and flooding hit Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, as well as parts of other river regions.

Nearly 1.1 million acres of cropland and more than 84,000 acres of pastureland in the U.S. Midwest had flood water on it for at least seven days between March 8 and March 21, according to satellite data analyzed for and reported by Reuters.

Market reaction

Although information for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service report was gathered before the flood, the market didn’t seem to care that some regions won’t match the report acreage expectations. That’s because the grain stocks report issued the same day showed higher numbers that could buffer the lost acres.

The USDA reported corn stocks, as of March 1, at 8.60 billion bushels, down 3% from a year ago but still the third largest on record. Of that, 5.13 billion bushels were stored on farms.

Soybean stocks of 2.72 billion bushels, the largest on record for the time period, and an increase of 29% from a year ago. Wheat stocks totaled 1.59 billion bushels, the second biggest in 31 years.

By the close of the market Friday in Ohio, March 29, corn had dropped 17 cents, soybeans were down 5 cents and wheat, 7 cents.

Planting intentions

In addition to the national numbers for corn and soybeans, the USDA report predicts all wheat acres will be the lowest on record — at 45.8 million acres — since records began in 1919. The U.S. number is down 4 percent from 2018.

The 2019 winter wheat planted area, at 31.5 million acres, is down 3 percent from last year. This represents the second lowest planted acreage on record for the United States.

Ohio is one state where farmers have more wheat in the ground than the previous season. Winter wheat acreage for 2019 in Ohio is estimated at 500,000 acres, up 2 percent from the previous year.

Ohio corn producers intend to plant 3.50 million acres this spring, unchanged from last year. Ohio soybean acreage is forecast at 4.95 million acres for 2019, down 1 percent from last year.

Ohio’s oat acreage is projected at 45,000 acres, down 18 percent from the prior year.

More hay shortages?

Nationwide, farmers intend to harvest 53.1 million acres of all hay in 2019, up less than 1 percent from 2018. If realized, this will represent the third lowest total hay harvested area since 1908, behind 2017 and 2018.

Record lows for all hay harvested area — which includes alfalfa, grain, and all other types of hay —are expected in California, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Hay acreage for 2019 in the Buckeye State is estimated at 910,000 acres, down 6 percent from 2018.

Pa. numbers

In Pennsylvania, farmers intend to plant record-high soybean acreage, an estimated record 650,000 acres, up 2 percent from the previous record set in 2018.

Corn acreage in Pennsylvania is estimated at 1.37 million acres, up 1 percent from last year.

The commonwealth’s oat acreage is estimated at 70,000 acres, up 8 percent from last year, and winter wheat area planted is estimated at 200,000 acres, up 3 percent from last year.

Hay area harvested is estimated at 1.22 million acres, up 3 percent from last year.

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