COLUMBUS, Ohio -- U.S. corn growers intend to plant a whopping 90.5 million acres of corn this growing season, an 11 million acre increase from 2006, and the highest acreage this country has seen in over 60 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Ohio growers intend to plant 3.6 million acres of corn, up from 3.1 million acres last year. The bulk of the increased corn acreage is coming from reduced soybean acreage across the country and reduced cotton plantings in the South.
Matt Roberts, an Ohio State University Extension agricultural economist with the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, said high corn prices are encouraging growers to plant more corn. But with such a high planting estimate, prices will likely slide if farmers see a normal planting period.
"Analysts were projecting anywhere from 8 million to 12.5 million more acres, and this is clearly on the bearish side of those estimates," said Roberts, who also holds a research appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "But with acres above 10 million, the market will see this as meeting expectations and if we have normal planting weather in April and May, prices will begin to weaken and then slide."
The good news is that there will likely be enough corn to fuel demands from the various markets that consume corn. That is, if weather from planting through harvest is ideal.
"The focus of the market is to ensure availability of corn for all users -- ethanol, livestock feed, foreign feed, food markets, domestic industrial uses," said Roberts. "With these acreage numbers, there is a less worry that there won't be enough corn to go around. Of course, it's still contingent upon planting weather and the weather we have this summer, and the total number of bushels grown. But now there is much more of a cushion for any sort of adverse weather."
Soybean producers intend to plant 67.1 million acres, down 11 percent from last year. If realized, this will be the lowest planted acreage in over a decade. Ohio growers intend to plant 4.4 million acres of soybeans, down from 4.6 million acres in 2006.
Growers may be reducing acreage in soybeans and other crops to accommodate corn, but they intend to increase their acreage of wheat 5 percent from last year to 60.3 million acres. Winter wheat is anticipated to increase 10 percent from last year to 44.5 million acres. However, Ohio growers will reduce their acreage of winter wheat from 990,000 acres last year to 870,000 acres in 2007.