Despite the wettest spring in a quarter century, U.S. farmers sowed nearly 6 percent more corn and 5 percent fewer soybeans than expected during a cold and muddy planting season, said the USDA, based on a survey of 68,100 growers during the first two weeks of June. The annual Acreage report usually provides a definitive picture of crops, but excessive rain slowed field work so much that the USDA said it will re-survey the Midwest this month and would revise its acreage data, if need be, in its August crop report.
Aside from planning a 4-percent expansion of corn area, U.S. farmers aren't enthusiastic about spring planting. With little improvement expected in commodity prices, growers say they will plant fewer acres of soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, sorghum and oats than in 2018, and they'll stand pat on barley.
U.S. farmers planted nearly 2 million more acres of corn and soybeans than they planned in late winter, but soybeans, for the first time in 35 years, will be the most widely grown crop in the country, said the USDA's annual Acreage report. The soybean harvest could be the second-largest ever and corn the third-largest, assuming normal weather and yields.
Wheat growers sowed 31.2 million acres of winter wheat for harvest this spring, the lowest figure since 1909 for the dominant type of U.S. wheat, according to a survey of farmers by Farm Futures. It would be a declne of 4.5 percent from last year and reflect poor profit potential of the wheat compared to other crops.
It sounded like the return of Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz, who urged farmers to plant fence row to fence row, when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was asked about the uncertainties created by President Trump's plan to renegotiate trade pacts, says DTN. Ross responded, "If I were a farmer, I would plant as much as I can logically plant in today's environment."
For the third month in a row, the USDA said the record-setting U.S. corn and soybean crops are bigger than expected. At 15.2 billion bushels, the corn crop is roughly a billion bushels larger than the 2014 record and the soybean crop, now pegged at 4.36 billion bushels, is 10-percent larger than the previous mark, also set in 2014.
The record-setting U.S. soybean crop is even bigger than expected, up nearly 2 percent from USDA's previous forecast to an estimated 4.269 billion bushels. With farm-gate prices at the second-lowest level in a decade, soybean exports will exceed 2 billion bushels for the first time, according to the monthly WASDE report.
U.S. farmers are growing peanuts faster than the nation, or the world, can consume them, say USDA economists, who estimate the peanut supply will be a record 9.5 billion pounds following this year's harvest. Thanks to rising demand, led by China and Vietnam, exports are forecast for a record 1.5 billion pounds — one-fourth of this year's crop — but the U.S. peanut surplus could continue to grow.
U.S. farmers are headed for a record-large corn crop at the same time that market prices may be the lowest in a decade — a combination that could trigger crop-insurance indemnities for farmers who bought high levels of revenue insurance, says DTN. "In fact, many corn growers could trigger 2016 crop insurance pay-outs with no yield loss."
U.S. corn plantings grew 10 percent in the past decade, driven by the commodity boom that began in 2006. Economist Gary Schnitkey says the expansion occurred mostly in the western Corn Belt, with North Dakota and South Dakota accounting for one-third of the increased U.S. acreage of 7.9 million acres.