By Katie Micik
DTN Markets Editor
OMAHA (DTN) -- Private analytical firm Informa Economics expects farmers will plant 455,000 fewer acres of corn than USDA suggested in its Prospective Plantings report in March. Soybean acreage is likely to increase 1.2 million acres, while spring wheat acres are expected to be 300,000 acres fewer.
"Warm and dry weather last season allowed for rapid planting progress and low prevented plantings. This year's weather has not been as cooperative with a wet, cool start delaying spring row crop plantings," the report stated. "There appears to have been some switching from corn to soybeans (primarily in Minnesota, North Dakota and the Mid-South), which is consistent with delayed plantings, but elsewhere the survey indicated that farmers have yet to give up on acres intended for corn or soybeans despite the slow start to spring planting."
Informa estimates farmers will plant 96.8 million acres of corn as compared to March's USDA estimate of 97.28 ma. North Dakota leads the decline. Farmers there are expected to plant 400,000 fewer acres of corn. Minnesota farmers will plant 300,000 less, while Mississippi and Arkansas growers are each expected to sow 150,000 acres less.
The declines will be partially offset by higher corn plantings in Illinois, expected to increase by 300,000 acres, and Missouri, up 200,000.
DTN Analyst Todd Hultman thinks Informa's corn acreage estimate is on the high side.
"I don't have any problem assuming that the Corn Belt will get planted just fine this year, except I think that North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin will lose more corn acres than Informa shows here," he said. "Last Monday, the USDA showed 18%, 18% and 14% planted in those three northern states. With this week's rain in Wisconsin and southeast Minnesota, some progress was probably made in North Dakota and Minnesota, but DTN's five-day forecast has 1-2 inches of rain expected for the Dakotas, Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. That will add to further delays in these three states that have a limited growing season.
"I would not be surprised to see another 400,000 to 800,000 of corn acres (total) reduced from those three states in the June acreage report," Hultman said.
Informa expects soybean acreage to total 78.3 ma, up from March's USDA estimate of 77.13 ma. That's 1.1 ma higher than last year with the largest increases seen in the Western Corn Belt. Minnesota will plant 450,000 more acres to soybeans, drawing away from spring wheat and corn, while Nebraska will plant 300,000 more acres than previously expected. Illinois' 300,000-acre gain in corn translates to a 300,000-acre soybean decline.
"We are not believers in the big corn-switching-to-soybeans theory here at DTN," Hultman said. "I just think that the USDA's initial soybean planting estimate was too low given the current environment of strong commercial demand for available soybeans. 78.3 million acres is more in line with estimates from earlier this year, before the planting intentions report."
Double-crop soybean acres are expected to increase 7% from last year to 6.3 million acres, Informa's report stated.
Informa estimates spring wheat acreage at 12.4 ma, up from last year but 300,000 acres lower than USDA's March acreage estimates.
Informa's all-cotton acreage estimate is 2.1 ma lower than last year at 10.2 ma, but 215,000 acres higher than USDA's March estimate. Texas upland cotton acreage is expected to total 5.6 million acres, 100,000 more than USDA's March estimate.
USDA will release its updated acreage estimates on June 28.
Katie Micik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright 2013 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.