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Prospective Plantings....All the Guesswork

Published on Monday, March 25, 2019

As the market prepares for the coming Prospective Plantings report on Friday, there is much discussion about which crop (corn or soybeans) will carry the greatest weight in gaining ground.  Looking back at last fall's numbers, (see table below) the USDA projected 92 million acres of corn and 82.5 million acres of soybeans.  They also projected 3.2 million acre increase in wheat to a combined acreage of 51 million acres.  However, with winter wheat seedings down 1.3 million, this will require many extra acres of spring wheat to cover the gap.

In the February Ag Outlook Forum, the USDA acknowledged the lower wheat seedings.  Soybeans were the clear winner, picking up 2.5 million acres from the fall projection.  Jennifer Bond, presenting information from across several agencies inside the USDA presented an updated thought process on where acres might be.  Her slide, Total 3-Crop Planted Area Projections is seen below.

So that leaves us to Friday's numbers.  What will the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS, a division of USDA) say?  According to Bloomberg's survey of private analysts, the average estimate has corn at 91.3 and soybeans at 86.2 million acres.  Obviously, private analysis in recent weeks has been tracking back toward soybeans and away from more corn.  Recent flooding in the west, a softer corn price in early/mid March, and other questions may be supporting their thesis.  However, Friday at 11 am Central, the USDA will make their announcement and that will be the baseline.

In the meantime, the current rally in corn has re-presented opportunities for grain producers who may not have fully addressed prices when we were last here.  Contact us to shape strategies that are best suited for your operation.