USDA prospective planting report: corn acres down

By Susanne Retka Schill | March 10, 2008
Web exclusive posted March 31, 2008 at 2:24 p.m. CST

The first glimpse into the commodity markets' battle for acres was provided today in the seasons' first USDA Prospective Planting Report. As expected, farmers intend to plant 8 percent less than 2007's high in corn acres, but soybean acreage is up 18 percent from the previous year, and all wheat acreage is up 6 percent. Spring weather conditions will be watched closely to see if farmers' initial planting intentions shift as regional planting conditions unfold.

The USDA reports corn growers intend to plant 86 million acres in 2008, down 8 percent from last year when corn acreage was the highest since 1944. In most states, expected acreage is down from last year as favorable prices for other crops, high input costs for corn, and crop rotation considerations are motivating some farmers to plant fewer acres of corn. Despite the decrease, corn acreage is expected to remain at historically high levels as the corn price outlook remains strong due in part to the continued expansion in ethanol production, the USDA said in its first Prospective Planting Report of the season.

The USDA also released its grain stocks report on March 31, which showed that corn stocks in all positions on March 1 totaled 6.86 billion bushels, up 13 percent from March 1, 2007. Of the total stocks, 3.78 billion bushels are stored on farms, up 14 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 3.08 billion bushels, are up 12 percent from March 2007. USDA reported the corn disappearance from December 2007 to February 2008 was 3.42 billion bushels, compared with 2.86 billion bushels during the same period last year.