A new survey from Farm Futures shows that U.S. farmers will increase plantings of wheat, corn and soybeans in 2021. Dry conditions in the western U.S., the Black Sea Region and South America combined with tighter wheat supplies have supported prices over the last 4-6 months. The surge in prices has changed the outlook for the farming business, leading farmers to increase total wheat acres for the first time since 2018.
The U.S. dollar dropped to 3 year lows in early 2021 and that has helped to encourage international buyers to shop for U.S. wheat. Rising wheat prices last fall led to a 3% increase in winter wheat plantings in 2021. Farm Futures’ January 2021 survey data is more optimistic, suggesting winter wheat acreage planted in fall 2020 will rise 6% from 2019 levels, to 32.4 million acres.
Of course, severe drought conditions in the High Plains and West over the past several months could limit yield potential. But that could just add more support to prices.
Meanwhile, as we look towards spring planting, spring wheat acres are also expected to increase. The Farm Futures survey found 2021 spring wheat acres is likely to increase by almost 3% from 2020’s levels to 12.6 million acres.
Farm Futures estimated that total wheat acreage planted in 2021 will come in at 46.4 million acres, an increase of 4.5% from last year.
U.S. corn producers are expected to increase their acreage by 4.1 percent compared to last year. The projected total is 94.7 million acres of corn this year. If farmers reach that number, that will put 2021 corn acreage at its third-highest amount over the past 75 years, trailing only 2012 at 97.3 million acres and 2013’s 95.4 million.
A conservative trendline yield estimate of 177.4 bushels per acre would put corn production at 15.3 billion bushels. That would top the record of 15.1 million bushels harvested in 2016, which was the highest U.S. corn output ever recorded.
While the January 2021 survey shows farmers favoring more corn planting this spring, planting intentions for both corn and soybeans are higher than 2020 levels. Plus, a good number of farmers plan to stick with their normal crop rotation. The Farm Futures survey shows farmers will increase soybean acres by 1.4 million, to 84.5 million.
Uncertainty remains as farmers look ahead, ranging from dry South American weather forecasts to Chinese demand and pandemic-induced volatility. The survey says farmers are betting on a post-COVID recovery that boosts ethanol output and rising global export demand.
Farm Futures/NAFB/Northern Ag Network