USDA: Corn planters are ready to roll

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WASHINGTON – Driven by growing ethanol demand, U.S. farmers intend to plant 15 percent more corn acres in 2007.
According to the USDA’s Prospective Plantings report released March 30, producers plan to plant 90.5 million acres of corn, the largest area since 1944 and 12.1 million acres more than in 2006.
Expected corn acreage is up in nearly all states, due to favorable prices fueled by increased demand from ethanol producers as well as strong export sales.
If average yields of 152 bushels/acre are realized, corn growers would be on track to produce the largest crop on record.
Corn Belt. Illinois farmers intend to plant a record 12.9 million corn acres this spring, up 14.2 percent from 2006. Record-high acreage is also expected in Minnesota, North Dakota, California and Idaho.
Iowa continues to be the largest corn acreage state with 13.9 million acres, up 1.3 million acres from 2006.
In Ohio, growers say they’re planting 3.65 million acres of corn, up from last year’s 3.15 million acres. Pennsylvania’s corn acres will also increase, with growers intending to plant 1.45 million acres, up from 1.35 million in 2006.
Fewer beans. The increase in intended corn acres is partially offset by a decrease in soybean acres in the Corn Belt and Great Plains, as well as fewer expected acres of cotton and rice in the Delta and Southeast.
U.S. farmers plan to plant 67.1 million acres of soybeans, the lowest total since 1996 and a decrease of 8.4 million acres from 2006.
In Ohio, soybean acres are expected to drop to 4.4 million acres, down from 4.65 million acres in 2006.
New York growers, however, are bucking the trend and are planning to plant 210,000 acres of beans, the largest on record in that state.
Area planted to cotton is expected to be down 20 percent from 2006.
Wheat is up. All wheat planted area is expected to increase 5 percent from 2006, to 60.3 million acres. Winter wheat acreage is up 10 percent and durum wheat is up 6 percent, while other spring wheat is down 7 percent.
Other crops with expected acreage increases are sorghum, up 9 percent, and canola, up 12 percent, and barley, up 7 percent from last year’s record low.

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