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USDA plantings report out of sync with trade expectations

Corn planted acres to be lowest in U.S. since 2010.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) once again surprised the trade today when it released the highly anticipated Prospective Plantings report.

Corn planted area for 2015 was estimated at 89.2 million acres, down 2% from last year. If realized, USDA said it will be the third consecutive year of an acreage decline and would be the lowest planted acreage in the United States since 2010. The average trade guess prior to the report was 88.7 million acres.

Despite the decrease in most states, Minnesota and Wisconsin were both expecting an increase in planted acreage from last year.  

Soybean planted area for 2015 was estimated at a record high 84.6 million acres, up 1% from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage intentions increased or were unchanged in 21 of the 31 major producing States. For soybeans, the trade expected 85.9 million acres.

Increases of 200,000 acres or more were anticipated in Arkansas, Iowa, and Ohio. Compared with last year, the largest declines were expected in Kansas and Nebraska. If realized, the USDA said soybean acreage will be the largest on record in Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

All wheat planted area for 2015 was estimated at 55.4 million acres, down 3% from 2014. The 2015 winter wheat planted area, at 40.8 million acres, was down 4% from last year but up less than 1% from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 29.6 million acres were Hard Red Winter, 7.75 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.43 million acres were White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2015 was estimated at 13.0 million acres, down slightly from 2014. Of this total, about 12.1 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. The intended Durum planted area for 2015 was estimated at 1.65 million acres, up 18% from the previous year.

The Andersons’ risk management team said in pre-report analysis that historically the USDA’s March 31 report has not been accurate to actual acreage planted. “There is a still a lot of time after the report for weather and market changes to influence producer's final acreage,” the team noted.

NASS today also released the quarterly Grain Stocks report to provide estimates of on-farm and off-farm stocks as of March 1. Key findings in that report included:

•        Corn stocks totaled 7.74 billion bushels, up 11% from the same time last year. On-farm corn stocks were up 13% from a year ago, and off-farm stocks were up 7%.

•        Soybeans stored on farms totaled 1.33 billion bushels, up 34% from March 1, 2014. On-farm soybean stocks were up 60% from a year ago, while off-farm stocks were up 18%.

•        All wheat stored totaled 1.12 billion bushels, up 6% from a year ago. On-farm all wheat stocks were up 17% from last year, while off-farm stocks were up 3%.

•        Durum wheat stored totaled 37.6 million bushels, down 1% from March 1, 2014. On-farm stocks were down 22% from last year, but off-farm stocks of Durum wheat were up 23% from March 1, 2014. 

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