WASHINGTON — The National Agricultural Statistics Service of the US Department of Agriculture on March 31 said farmers intend to plant more corn and soybeans for harvest this year than last, but the seedings forecasts fell far below trade expectations. Corn and soybean futures raged higher in response, up the daily limits at points in the case of both contracts.

On the basis of a survey of farmers’ spring planting intentions, the NASS forecast the area planted to corn for harvest this year at 91,144,000 acres, up only 325,000 acres, or less than 1%, from 90,816,000 acres in 2020. Still, it would be the largest area planted to corn since 94 million acres were seeded in 2016. The recent five-year average corn planted area was 90.9 million acres. The record-large area planted to corn was 97.3 million acres in 2012.

The corn plantings forecast fell well below the range of pre-report trade estimates that averaged 93,208,000 acres.  

In commentary accompanying the corn seedings forecast, the NASS said, “Planted acreage for 2021 is expected to be up or unchanged from 2020 in 24 of the 48 estimating states. Record-high acreage is expected in Idaho and Oregon. Record-low acreage is expected int Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Acreage increases from last year of 100,000 acres or more are expected in Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.”

The NASS said farmers intend to plant 87,600,000 acres to soybeans this spring, up 4,516,000 acres, or 5%, from 83,084,000 acres in 2020. The forecast seeded area would be the largest since 89.2 million acres in 2018 and compared with 84.4 million acres as the recent five-year average. The largest area seeded to soybeans was 90.2 million acres in 2017.

The NASS plantings forecast for soybeans fell 2,396,000 acres short of the average of pre-report trade estimates at 89,996,000 acres.

The NASS commented, “Compared with last year, planted acreage intentions are up or unchanged in 23 of the 29 estimating states. Increases of 250,000 acres or more are anticipated in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. If realized, the planted area in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wisconsin will be the largest on record.”