10 million more corn acres coming

That's no typo. According to a survey released today by Farm Futures, U.S. farmers are set to plant 88.4 million acres of corn this spring, a 10.1 million acre increase from 2006.

That would be the highest corn acreage since 1946. And it says something about the lure of $4 corn, says survey author Bryce Knorr, Senior Editor at the magazine.

"Farmers are ready to plant corn like there's no tomorrow,•bCrLf he says. "December 07 futures is at $4/bu., so why not? That's an all-time record for a December futures contract.•bCrLf

Two weeks ago private grains research house Informa Economics estimated a 7 million corn acreage increase for 2007, to 85.612 million acres. The firm also estimated soybean acreage would drop 4.644 million from 2006, at 70.878 million acres.

Farm Futures' new survey estimates soybean acreage could drop to 69.5 million acres this spring, down from 75.5 million in 2006.

Increased ethanol demand The industry is carefully monitoring the number of corn acres needed to meet increasing ethanol and export demand. University of Illinois analyst Darrel Good says a continuation of prices above $3 would likely result in a further decline in feed and residual use of corn in the 2007-08 marketing year, to perhaps 5.85 billion bushels.

Export demand for U.S. corn will likely be supported by a reduction in Chinese exports. With stocks at the start of the 2007-08 marketing year also at 750 million bushels, the 2007 crop would need to total 12.5 billion bushels, nearly two billion bushels larger than the 2006 crop. With the 2007 U.S. average yield at a healthy 155 bushels, a 12.5 billion bushel crop would require harvested acreage of corn for grain to be near 80.7 million and planted acreage to be near 87.8 million, Good says.

The survey Farm Futures conducted over Labor day last fall was the first to really document a large shift in acreage this year. At that time, our survey results came back saying farmers would be planting 85 million acres, a sizeable jump from 2006, but still lower than the 88 million acres in today's survey.

"Even though we were way above what people were talking about, it quickly became apparent that our number was pretty accurate,•bCrLf says Knorr. "Our number was quickly accepted in the marketplace.

"Historically, our surveys have been pretty accurate,•bCrLf he adds. "One reason is, we have one of the best farmer databases around. We have a large sampling of people who register through our website.•bCrLf

Get the full story in the news features at our home page, www.farmfutures.com. And mark March 30 on your calendar. That's the day USDA is scheduled to release its own prospective plantings report.

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