USDA on Thursday predicted U.S. farmers this year will plant 93.6 million acres of corn, the most since the 2013 crop, and 82.2 million acres of soybeans, the least since 2013.
The increase in corn acres was larger than expected, while the decrease in soybeans was about as expected. Chicago corn futures fell about 6 cents after the report, with old- and new-crop contracts trading about 10 cents lower for the day.
More corn acres had been expected as the crop appeared to offer better returns than soybeans, helped by lower fuel and fertilizer prices.
Wheat acreage at 49.6 million is down from 2015’s 54.6 million. Lower returns had analysts expecting a decrease.
At its annual outlook forum in February, USDA had forecast corn acres at 90 million, soybeans at 82.5 million and total wheat at 51 million.
The quarterly grain stocks released on Thursday were above year-ago levels for corn, soybeans and wheat due in part to a slowdown in exports for the three crops. The numbers were close to trade forecasts.
Corn stocks as of March 1 were nearly 7.81 billion versus 2015’s 7.75 billion, soybeans were at 1.53 billion versus 2015’s 1.33 billion and wheat was at 1.37 billion versus 2015’s 1.14 billion.