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All Four Major U.S. Crops Could Need More Acres in '08

Crunch numbers to arrive at your best rotation option.

Here's the '08 crop outlook in a nutshell, at least so far. With rising demand, fueled by new ethanol plans, corn may need to bid up for even more acres next year than this year. That number may wind up even higher than expected after a disastrous Midwest late-August storm in the northern Corn Belt and one of the hottest, driest August months ever recorded in parts of the eastern Corn Belt, particularly the southern half of the eastern Corn Belt. Except for crops on very heavy soils, many fields simply ran out of water and dried up early, leading to questionable kernel depth.

Soybeans will also need more acres, since acres were down this year. And since August is the critical month for soybean yields, it remains to be seen if the month just concluded was unkind to soybeans nationally as some fear it might have been. Too much rain means lots of diseases, sometimes lodging, following flooding. No rain and lots of heat means bee-bee-sized soybeans. It's a flexible, durable crop, but there's no such thing as 'Super Soybeans,'- not yet. There are limits.

Wheat will need more acres, despite record yield in Colorado. Their problem in late August was finding enough trucks to move the crop. But it wasn't a worldwide problem by any means. Instead, wheat remains at very high prices, roughly around $5 per bushel. And if you're farming in the deep South, which most of you aren't, cotton will need more acres. A rebounding cotton market price-wise could pull some corn acres back to cotton. That could affect you and your decision-making process, whether you have ever seen a cotton plant growing or not.

The bottom line sounds like a dream for a farmer - every crop will have to bid up to get the acres users need. What happens in South America could play off the soybean advantage, depending on what happens this fall and winter in that part of the yield. But right now, long-term prospects look exciting- interesting to say the least.

"I can't remember a time in my career when all the U.S. major crops were in high enough demand that we could say this," he says. "That's true even though we just grew the largest corn acreage this season in more than 60 years."

But not he largest corn acreage ever recorded- U.S. farmers at one time grew more than 100 million acres of corn, in the '30's, but no soybeans, because the crop wasn't accepted here yet, and uses for it weren't developed. Even with that huge corn acreage, the country wasn't always awash in corn because trend yield was so much lower than today.

So which crop would you rather grow, If you're in Indiana, you may have your choice of three, four if you count wheat/doublecrop soybeans. But if you're choosing an option involving wheat, time is running out to line up seed. Wheat planting after the fly-free date could begin as early as Sep. 22 in northern Indiana, and progress down to October 9 in Posey County in the southwest toe of the state.

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