Prospective plantings: USDA expects 75-year-high corn acreage


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Driven by favorable prices, U.S. farmers intend to plant 95.9 million acres of corn this year, up four percent from 2011, according to the Prospective Plantings report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

If realized, this will be the largest corn acreage in the United States since 1937, when producers planted 97.2 acres of corn. Producers across many of the Corn Belt states are expected to set new record highs in 2012.


Ohio corn producers intend to plant 3.80 million acres this spring, up from 3.40 million acres last year. Pennsylvania growers intend to plant 1.44 million acres, up 1 percent from the previous year and 7 percent from 2010.

Farmers in Iowa, the top U.S. corn-growing state, intend to set a new record for the state by planting 14.6 million acres, up four percent from 2011. Growers in Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota also intend to plant record-high acreages.

The largest year-over-year increase is expected in North Dakota, where farmers are recovering from last year’s floods and declared their intentions to plant 3.4 million acres of corn, up 52 percent from last year. The corn acreage increase, coupled with weather conditions in the Southern Plains resulted in a soybean acreage decrease.


U.S. soybean growers intend to plant 73.9 million acres in 2012, down one percent from last year. Affected by the drought conditions that have continued from last year into early March, Texas and Oklahoma farmers plan significant reductions in soybean acreage, expecting to dedicate 24 and 15 percent fewer acres respectively to the crop this year.

These decreases are offset by acreage increase in other states, such as New York and North Dakota, where farmers are expected to set new records.

Ohio soybean acreage is forecasted at 4.55 million acres for 2012, the same as last year. Compared with 2011, planted area is down or unchanged across the Corn Belt and Great Plains with the exceptions of Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Pennsylvania growers intend to plant 500,000 acres, equal to the acres planted in the two previous years.


The U.S. wheat planted area is estimated at 55.9 million acres, up 3 percent from 2011. The 2012 winter wheat planted area, at 41.7 million acres, is up 3 percent from last year but down 1 percent from the previous estimate.

Of this total, about 29.9 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 8.4 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.5 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2012 is estimated at 12.0 million acres, down 3 percent from 2011. Of this total, about 11.3 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. Durum planted area for 2012 is estimated at 2.22 million acres, up 62 percent from the previous year.

In Ohio, winter wheat acreage is estimated at 580,000 acres, down 300,000 acres from the previous year.

In Pennsylvania, winter wheat planted is at 165,000 acres, down 11 percent from last year’s planted acres and equal to 2010.

What it means

“The intended plantings report contained both bullish and bearish information,” said Carl Zulauf, Ohio State University agricultural economist. “On the bearish side, intended planted acres of corn exceeded what the market thought would be in the report. On the bullish side, soybean-intended planted acres were less than the market’s expectations.”

In Indiana, producers said they would increase corn acres by 200,000 acres but reduce soybean acreage by the same amount. Ohio growers said they would increase corn acres even more substantially with a 400,000-acre jump. Growers expected Ohio soybean acres to stay the same.

“The increase in Indiana corn acreage is going to come entirely out of soybean acreage,” said Corinne Alexander, Purdue Extension agricultural economist. “Ohio’s soybean acres are flat, so the largest portion of that corn acreage increase is going to come from a reduction in wheat acres. What doesn’t come from wheat acres, we expect largely to come from 2011’s prevented planting acres and from conservation land.”

Prospective Plantings provides the first official, survey based estimates of U.S. farmers’ 2012 planting intentions. NASS’s acreage estimates are based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of more than 84,500 farm operators across the United States. Prospective Plantings and all NASS reports are available online at

Still early

Given that the information for the report was collected early in the year, Zulauf cautioned that in any given year, the difference between what farmers tell the USDA they intend to plant and what they actually plant can shift based on numerous factors. Weather often is an important one.

“This is only one step toward getting us to what are the eventual 2012 crops,” he said. “Yield has become increasingly more important than acres in terms of how much we produce. So while this is an important report, we are a long way from Oct. 1 and knowing what the actual size of the crop is.”

More than expected

American Farm Bureau Economist John Anderson said the corn number was much higher than expected.

“This (95.9 million acres) is a lot bigger number than the market had expected for corn,” he said. “But we still must remember it is very early, this is a prospective number only and there is a long way to go to see how this crop ultimately turns out. For now, the market seems to be more focused on lower soybean acreage as well as pretty strong demand revealed in today’s report on grain stocks. If these early planting projections are realized, it would translate into the largest feedgrain supply we have had in the last six or seven years.”

And a larger supply of feedgrain would likely lead to lower feed prices and take some pressure off the ethanol industry.

Assuming a relatively normal growing and harvest season, he predicted corn supplies will “be more than enough to meet all of our nation’s domestic needs for feed and fuel, as well as supplies for our export channels.”

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  1. If this is the Empire edition, why is Ohio and PA acreages considered “local”. In NY, growers are expected to plant 1.17M acres of corn, up 6% from last year and 293,000 acres of soybeans, up 4.5% from last year.

    • Farm and Dairy doesn’t have specific regional editions. Our primary print circulation is in Ohio and Pennsylvania, although we have readers in 44 states.

      Thanks for the N.Y. numbers.


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