The last time the United States planted as many corn acres as USDA is predicting for this year, Franklin D. Roosevelt was just entering his second term as president.
It was 1937 when an estimated 97.2 million acres were planted. This year, the USDA Prospective Planting report predicts that corn growers will plant nearly 96 million acres – 95.9 million to be exact. That’s four percent more than last year and nine percent higher than in 2010. Corn acres are expected to increase or stay the same in 40 states, with the biggest increases in Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and Ohio.
“Even after a difficult growing season last year, farmers harvested a bountiful crop to meet all needs, and it seems that they are on track to break records in 2012,” said National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer of Illinois. “This report shows that the innovative American farmer understands the increasing global demands of corn for food, feed, fuel and fiber and that they see the importance of meetings those needs.”
The greater acreage could more than make up for the lower grain stocks in USDA’s latest Quarterly Report, also released on Friday. In that summary, USDA says corn stocks are 8% lower than they were a year ago at just over 6 billion bushels. Of that, 3.19 billion bushels are stored on farms, down 6% from last year.
The unseasonably warm weather already this spring has farmers itching to plant, but most in the Midwest are holding off for a few more weeks, just to be safe. Nebraska Corn Board Director of Research Kelly Brunkhorst says farmers in the Cornhusker State are responding to market signals with the investment necessary to meet demand. “That corn is converted to meat, milk and eggs, ethanol, distillers grains, bioplastics and more,” Brunkhorst said. “Corn is the foundation for all of that, so getting the crop in the ground and off to a good start this spring is critical.”
Nebraska farmers planted 9.85 million acres to corn last year – largest acreage since the 1930’s – and they intend to top that by 450,000 this year.