COLUMBUS, Ohio – There are many factors that drive crop producers' management plans, but ultimately the weather may make the decision for them.
U.S. growers are projected to plant record soybean acres this year, fewer corn acres than anticipated, and even less soft red winter wheat. Things might have been different if weather last fall would have been more cooperative.
"A very wet fall prevented a lot of growers from harvesting at a normal time and allowing for timely wheat planting," said Matt Roberts, an Ohio State University Extension agricultural economist with the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics. "Because of the weather, growers also couldn't get a lot of field work done in the fall, such as fertilizer applications."
As a result, numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Prospective Plantings Report, released March 31, turned out to be what analysts were predicting. Corn growers intend to plant 88.8 million acres of corn, a record 78.1 million acres of soybeans, and 53.8 million acres of wheat. Ohio growers, specifically, planted about 200,000 acres less of soft red winter wheat than last year. In addition, they are planting 4.6 million acres of soybeans, up slightly from last year, and 3.7 million acres of corn, up 350,000 acres from last year and just 150,000 acres shy of the 2007 planting record.
"There was a lot of anticipation building for this report since the January report, which indicated a decline of wheat seedings of about 6 million acres. People were concerned about where those acres would end up, and we see a lot of those acres going back into corn and soybeans," said Roberts, who also holds an appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "We also knew we would see an increase in cotton acreage with farmers in the south wanting to return to cotton who had moved to corn a few years ago because of the relative prices. We do see that change reflected here."
Roberts said that Ohio growers planted fewer wheat acres this year because of the fall weather conditions and weak wheat prices due to large inventories of the crop. Whether farmers plant corn or soybeans this spring will depend on what happened last fall in terms of harvest and field operations.
"There seems to be no major shift one way or the other toward corn or soybeans," said Roberts.
Now that this report is out of the way, the markets will now be turning their attention strictly to planting weather.