The Acreage Game

It's that time of year again, when market analysts start releasing their estimates of what US farmers will plant this spring.

The USDA have already told us that winter wheat plantings are down to 37.1 million acres, but they won't tentatively pontificate on corn or soybean area until February's Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, before we get their first official estimates at the end of March.

On Friday Informa said that US farmers would plant 89.65 million acres of corn this year, 77.92 million acres of soybean, 53.79 million acres of wheat and 10.16 million acres of cotton.

That's a 3.7% increase in corn plantings, with the soybean area 0.6% higher. Offsetting the reduced winter wheat area (which is down 14.5%), we also have a significant shift into spring wheat (up 7.4%) and cotton (11% higher).

Allendale are more bullish on corn and soybean area, pegging corn at 90.83 million acres and soybeans at 79.25 million acres.

Incidentally, I just did a quick check back to what the USDA came out with last February, to see how close to the final numbers they got. Back then they pegged the all wheat area at 58 million acres, corn at 86 million and beans at 77 million.

Not too bad a guess compared to the final area of 86.4 million acres of corn, 77.5 million acres of beans and 59.1 million acres of wheat.

Indeed, overall it has to be said that the USDA were more accurate with their take on things last spring than either Informa or Allendale. Last March Informa had corn acres at 81.4 million and the bean area at 81.5 million, whilst Allendale were estimating things at 85.4 million for corn and 80.4 million for beans.