Latest Farm Futures producer survey reveals planting intentions

Survey confirms shift from corn to soybeans

Last spring's disruptive weather makes forecasting harder, increasing potential for surprises in USDA's March 31 report

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[March 27, 2014]  ST. CHARLES Major shifts in acreage first noted last summer by Farm Futures magazine appear to be holding as farmers make final plans for spring plantings. The magazine's latest survey of farmers shows they intend to boost soybean seedings more than earlier estimates, while cutting back corn ground.

New soybean and corn estimates

Farm Futures estimates 2014 soybean intentions at a record 82.93 million acres, easily an all-time high. If achieved, seedings would be up 8.4 percent over last year's total, which was cut by wet conditions last spring. All key states showed increases, with some of the biggest shifts possible in Illinois, where farmers pushed corn-on-corn in recent years to capture profits from the ethanol boom.

Though projected profits for both crops are lower this year, prices favor soybeans, making it easier for farmers to shift ground and improve crop rotations.

Corn planting intentions could fall to 92.06 million acres, down 3.5 percent from last year's lower-than-expected total, when farmers failed to put in more than 3.5 million acres of corn due to wet, cold conditions. Still, that would be the fourth-largest acreage since 1944 if achieved.

The latest survey is Farm Futures' third that asked growers about their 2014 planting intentions. The initial tally, released in August at the Farm Progress Show, first showed that farmers wanted to plant more soybeans and less corn. That trend increased with the magazine's December survey, released at the Farm Futures Business Summit. March results projected another increase in the shift, counting around 200,000 fewer corn acres and 600,000 more soybean acres than in December.

"While the ratio of new-crop soybean to corn prices actually pulled back a little over the winter, the strong rally in old-crop soybeans appeared to convince many farmers to take the plunge and plant more soybeans," says Bryce Knorr, Farm Futures senior grain market analyst. "November futures are following a more bullish seasonal trend than December corn, which gives soybeans a better chance for rallies during the spring and summer."

Potential surprises in next USDA report

However, Knorr cautions that USDA's March 31 estimate could provide more surprises for a market that has already seen plenty from recent government reports.

"Interpreting data from surveys this year will be more difficult than usual because so much corn ground wasn't planted," he says. "The range of potential outcomes from USDA is fairly wide, so farmers should be prepared for both bullish and bearish reactions."

Farm Futures also found growers hoping to plant 12.3 million acres of spring wheat, up 12.4 percent from last year, when wet conditions affected the total. All wheat acreage is estimated at 56.05 million, down only slightly from 2013.

"Another wet spring on the northern Plains could mean more acres planted to soybeans in an area where growers have demonstrated an eagerness to plant them already," says Knorr.

Farm Futures questioned 1,775 growers nationwide March 4 to March 20 by email, the largest non-government survey of farmers about their plans.

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Webinar featuring Farm Futures editors

Knorr and Bob Burgdorfer, new senior editor for Farm Futures, will discuss the impact of the March 31 reports, along with the spring weather outlook, in a webinar April 7 at 7 p.m. For more information on the free webinar and to register, go to

2014 crop planting intentions projected acres
Survey results by crop





92.06 million



82.93 million


Soft red winter wheat

8.7 million


Hard red winter wheat

29.8 million


White winter wheat

3.5 million


All winter wheat

42 million


Spring wheat

12.3 million



1.8 million


All wheat

56.05 million


*Change is vs. USDA 2013.

[Text from file received from Penton Farm Progress Group]

Farm Futures magazine is published nine times annually, plus bonus editions in mid-February and December, by Penton Farm Progress Group. Farm Futures provides business and management information to large-scale, high-income U.S. farm operators. The publication leads its market segment in producer preference. Farm Futures is a Penton Farm Progress magazine with extensive digital content and resources. To get the Farm Futures and Farm Futures magazine app for mobile devices, search for "Farm Futures" in the Android Market or iTunes/Apple App Store.

Penton Farm Progress Group is the largest, most diversified agriculture information business in North America. Through a network of live events, digital products, data, marketing services, broadcasting and publications, Penton Farm Progress is connected to nearly all of the nation's most economically significant farmers, growers and ranchers. This comprises nearly 75 percent of the 2.2 million farms and ranches in the U.S. and an estimated 85 percent of the nation's annual agricultural gross domestic product. Farm Progress Group is a Penton business,



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