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USDA report shows increase in soybean acres

The late-June USDA Acreage Report is always highly anticipated, because it becomes the first hard data after the March USDA Plantings Intentions Report to give an indication of crop production levels in a given growing season, as of June 1. Many times the June USDA Report can have a big impact, either upwards or downwards, on grain market trends. The June 30 report indicated the potential for fairly large U.S. corn and soybean crops in 2014, if favorable growing conditions persist in the coming months. USDA surveyed 71,000 agricultural producers during the first two weeks of June to gather information for the June 30 report.

The report showed that a record number of soybean acres will be planted in 2014, at just below 84.8 million acres, which is an increase of nearly 3.5 million acres from the March 1 planting intentions. Record soybean acreage in 2014 is likely in several states, including Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota. The projected 2014 U.S. soybean acreage is an increase of 11 percent from the 76.5 million acres planted to soybeans in 2013, and compares to 77.2 million acres in 2012. The USDA projections for increases in 2014 planted soybean acreage are over 2.6 million acres higher than the average grain trade estimates. The June 30 report estimated the 2014 harvested soybean acreage at 84.1 million acres, which is 7.4 million acres more than a year ago, and represents an increase of 11%.

The Acreage Report showed total 2014 planted corn acres in the U.S. at 91.6 million acres, which is down 4% from last year, and is the lowest level of planted corn acres since 2010. Even with the decrease in corn acreage this year, the 2014 planted corn acres will still be the fifth largest on record since 1944. The report showed a decrease of about 50,000 planted corn acres in 2014, compared to the USDA Planting Intentions Report in March 2014. The 2014 U.S. estimated corn acreage compares to 95.4 million acres of planted corn in 2013, and 97.2 million planted acres in 2012. The June 30 USDA estimates for U.S. planted corn acreage in 2014 was slightly lower than the average of major grain analysts. USDA projected harvested corn acreage for 2014 at 84.1 million acres, which would also be 4% less than in 2013.

Even though many areas Minnesota and surrounding states have struggled with prevented planting, flooded fields and excess rainfall, the general condition of the U.S. corn and soybean crop at the end of June was considered to be better than in recent years. There were very few areas of the Midwest with deficient soil moisture or stressed crops, and long-range summer weather forecasts for the Corn Belt are generally favorable. Many grain marketing analysts feel that the 2014 U.S. corn yield could exceed the record yield of 164.7 bushels per acre that was achieved in 2009, and are suggesting that the 2014 U.S. soybean yield could approach the record yield of 45 bushels per acre.

The USDA projection of 83.4 million harvested corn acres in 2014, together with a national average corn yield of 165 bushels per acre, would result in a 2014 corn crop of over 13.8 billion bushels. This would likely lead to a significant increase corn ending stocks by the end of the 2014-15 marketing year, and could result in average U.S. corn prices below $4.00 per bushel for the marketing year. If the harvested soybean acreage in the U.S. tops 84 million acres, with a national yield of 45 bushels per acre, total U.S. soybean production in 2014 would be near 3.8 billion bushels, nearly 500 million bushels above the 2013 U.S. production. If achieved, this would likely result in soybean ending stocks rising to above 400 million bushels at the end of the 2014-15 marketing year, with an average U.S. soybean price near $10.50 per bushel for the marketing year.

Some analysts feel that the big question mark in the June 30 report is what percent of the 2014 planted corn and soybean acres will be lost due to prevented planting and flooded crop acres from the excessive rainfall events in June. Typically, about 92% of the planted corn acres in the U.S. are harvested for grain, with the balance being used for corn silage, or being non-harvestable for various reasons. Most analysts feel that the 2014 harvested corn acreage will be close to that percentage; however, there is more uncertainty surrounding the final level of harvested soybean acreage, which could be reduced by the detrimental weather conditions in portions of the Midwest.

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