Winter wheat sprouts on dewy day. 1540x800 HaiGala/Thinkstock

Wheat seeding could be lowest in a century

Farm Futures survey shows less corn, more soybeans in 2016.

While USDA should confirm record corn and soybean crops in its Jan. 12 reports, Farm Futures latest survey shows growers seeded the lowest total of winter wheat acres since 1913 due to low profit expectations.

Farmers harvested 15.05 billion bushels of corn in 2016, easily an all-time record, but 176 million less than the government previously reported. The survey found farmers harvested fewer acres than USDA estimates, but yields were higher, coming in at 176 bpa.

For soybeans, Farm Futures puts production at 4.365 billion bushels, just 4 million more than USDA’s previous estimate. The survey found growers planted and harvested slightly more acres than the government projects, with yields slightly lower at 52.4 bpa.

“The changes aren’t enough to change the overall framework for prices headed into 2017,” says Farm Futures grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “Supplies remain very large, and amounts leftover at the end of the marketing year should continue to weigh on prices.”

“The smaller corn crop should help that market stabilize, but carryout still looks like it could run around 2.2 billion bushels.”

Knorr believes strong soybean demand should whittle away at projected carryout, which could eventually tighten to 425 million bushels, 55 million bushels less than USDA’s current estimate.

“That’s still a lot of soybeans, keeping rallies limited unless late season weather in South America hurts production,” says Knorr.

Farm Futures first survey of winter wheat seedings last summer found farmers ready to plant the least acreage since World War I. The latest tally is even lower at 34.8 million.

“All of the reduction we found came in hard red winter wheat,” Knorr says. “Farmers on the Plains appear ready to switch to other crops.”

Farm Futures January production surveys average less than a 1% difference from USDA’s corn and soybean estimates.

Based on Farm Futures survey of 1,060 growers Dec. 12, 2016-Jan. 3, 2017. Respondents were invited by email to complete survey online.

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