April 6, 2006

Higher Fuel, Fertilizer Costs Mean More Beans, Less Corn in 2006

Spring is officially here. For northeast Missouri that means warmer temperatures, and when the rains subside, plenty of tractors in motion. While we’re still weeks away from the traditional start of planting, experts are reporting some surprising trends about what will be going into the ground when the seeds are finally sown.

Missouri farmers reported their initial plans for the upcoming growing season in a survey conducted by the Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service that was released March 31st.

“Following a winter of speculation that high energy and fertilizer costs would direct producers to decrease corn acres and increase soybeans, farmers have reported their intentions are following these trends,” said Gene Danekas, MASS Director. “Cotton acres are increasing significantly in Missouri, while winter wheat acreage is returning to pre-2005 levels.”

Nationally, corn acreage is expected to be down 5 percent from last year while a 7 percent increase is indicated for soybeans.

Soybean planted acres in Missouri in 2006 are expected to total 5.3 million, up 6 percent from the level of the past 3 years.

Missouri farmers intend to plant 2.75 million acres of corn in 2006, down 11 percent from last year and 7 percent less than in 2004.

That will continue a trend witnessed last year in Scotland County when farmers increased the amount of ground in production of not only soybeans but corn as well.

A total of 54,300 acres were planted in soybeans in 2005 in Scotland County. That was up from 51,000 acres in 2004. Poor weather created a decline in harvest numbers despite the acreage increase as only 2.145 million bushels of soybeans were harvested in the county, down from 2.443 million the year before.

Corn saw much worse results due to the weather. Farmers saw their yield cut by more than half on average as the yield went down from the 2004 level of 167.3 bushels per acre to just 80.8. So despite increasing the acreage in corn from 39,400 acres to 39,900, farmers only produced 2.975 million bushels of corn compared to 6.406 million bushels in 2004.

The local planting trends are being echoed nationwide. Across the United States soybean producers intend to plant 76.9 million acres in 2006, up 7 percent from last year. If realized, this will be the largest planted area on record. Acreage increases are expected in all growing areas, except in the central and southern Atlantic Coast States and the southern Great Plains. The largest acreage increase is in North Dakota, where record high soybean yields last year and high input costs have some farmers shifting acreage from other crops to soybeans. Large increases in soybean acreage are also expected across the Corn Belt.

Corn growers in the U.S. intend to plant 78.0 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2006, down 5 percent from 2005 and 4 percent below 2004. If realized, this will be the lowest corn acreage since 2001 when 75.7 million acres were planted for all purposes. Expected acreage is down from last year in most States as producers intend to switch to other less input intensive crops due to high fertilizer and fuel costs. Dry conditions also contributed to lower corn planting intentions in the southern Great Plains.

All wheat planted area in the U.S. is expected to total 57.1 million acres, down slightly from 2005. If realized, this will be the lowest of all wheat acreage since 1972. Winter wheat planted area for the 2006 crop is 41.4 million acres, up 2 percent from last year. Of the total, about 29.8 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 7.42 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 4.22 million acres are White Winter. The 2006 other spring wheat planted acreage is expected to total 13.9 million, down 1 percent from 2005. Of the total, about 13.2 million acres are

Hard Red Spring wheat. Intended Durum wheat planted area is 1.83 million acres, down 34 percent from the previous year Soybean stocks in all positions in Missouri on March 1, 2006 totaled 83.8 million bushels, up 6 percent from a year earlier and a record high for this date. Stocks on farms accounted for 52 million bushels, 2 percent above a year ago, while beans in commercial facilities in the state totaled 31.8 million bushels, up 15 percent from March 1, 2005.

Missouri corn stocks on March 1 totaled 166 million bushels, 14 percent below a year ago but the second highest for this date since 1988. On-farm stocks at 105 million bushels were down 19 percent from March 1, 2005, while off-farm stocks declined 4 percent to 61.5 million.

United States soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2006 totaled 1.67 billion bushels, up 21 percent from March 1, 2005. This is the largest March 1 stocks level on record, exceeding the previous record set in 1999 by 1 percent.

Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at a record high 872 million bushels, up 10 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 797 million bushels, are up 36 percent from last March and are also at a record high level. Indicated disappearance for the December 2005 - February 2006 quarter totaled 834 million bushels, down 10 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Corn stocks in the U.S. in stocks in all positions on March 1, 2006 totaled 6.99 billion bushels, up 3 percent from March 1, 2005. Of the total stocks, 4.06 billion bushels are stored on farms, down 2 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 2.93 billion bushels, are up 12 percent from a year ago. The December 2005 - February 2006 indicated disappearance is 2.83 billion bushels, compared with 2.70 billion bushels during the same period last year.

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