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Survey says: Farmers could up corn to 94M acres in 2012

Illinois Correspondent

DECATUR, Ill. — The announcement on the first day of the 2011 Farm Progress Show last week was met with little surprise: Acreage dedicated to corn next year may surpass the post-World War II record set in 2007.

That’s a key result of the first survey of farmers conducted about growing plans for the 2012 season by Farm Futures magazine, said Senior Editor Bryce Knorr. The magazine surveyed 1,000 farmers online starting in mid-July through mid-August.

“Rising prices and profits convinced farmers to increase corn plantings in 2011, and the same should hold true in 2012,” Knorr said of a reported estimate of almost 94 million corn acres. “Farmers are truly planting for the market these days. However, that means these intentions could change by spring if the current bull market runs out of steam.”

Pricing changes between now and next March could easily impact 2012 planting plans, said financial analyst Shawn Hackett, author of the Hackett Commodity Report.

“But for right now, the market is priced for that kind of planting intent. Unless there’s a dramatic change, it’s no surprise we’re looking to put that much corn in,” he said.

It is the attraction of higher prices and higher profits that have producers looking to plant more corn, beans and wheat, according to survey results. Based on the responses, it is anticipated that approximately 93.87 million acres of corn will go in the ground in 2012, up nearly 2 percent from a tough 2011 growing year. The previous record was 93.6 million acres in 2007.

Survey results showed farmers are looking to plant about 76.9 million acres of soybeans, up 2.3 percent, and winter wheat this fall is expected to rise 3.1 percent to about 42.4 million acres.

Hackett suggested a strong growing year absent of adverse weather conditions should help replenish U.S. stocks and drive prices down, possibly creating a “corn glut” that would help livestock farmers.

“Chicken producers are collapsing right now, and dairy farmers are having difficulty. When feed prices get this high, it starts to hurt,” Hackett said.

The USDA’s recent crop report pegged corn production at about 12.9 million bushels, but given hot, dry weather conditions from July into August, that total likely will be less.

“Unfolding evidence suggests that the 2011 U.S. corn crop could be smaller than the initial projection of 12.914 billion bushels,” said Darrell Good, an agricultural economist with the University of Illinois.

Some early harvest results, coupled with the heat and dry conditions, indicate corn yields likely will fall below the latest USDA forecast of 153 bushels per acre, Good said.

Farm Futures survey results for crops other than corn included soybeans at 76.9 million acres, up 2.3 percent; soft red winter wheat at 8.4 million, up 1.7 percent; hard red winter wheat at 30.3 million, up 4 percent; white winter wheat at 3.7 million, down 0.6 percent; all winter wheat at 42.4 million, up 3.1 percent; spring wheat at 14.2 million, up 4.2 percent; durum at 2.1 million, up 21.4 percent; and all wheat at 58.63 million acres, up 3.9 percent


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