Economic Tidbits

Plenteous Prospective Plantings

The opening of this year’s Major League Baseball season occurred last week which means the opening of planting season isn’t far behind. The USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) heightened planted season’s coming last week with its prospective plantings report. The report projects crop plantings based on farmer surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March. NASS projects Nebraska farmers will plant 19.34 million acres to principal crops, up slightly from last year’s 19.30 million. Nebraska farmers intend to plant 9.5 million acres of corn, off 1.0 percent from last year, and 5.75 million acres of soybeans, unchanged. Nebraska is one of only two states, Texas being the other, projected to plant fewer corn acres this year compared to last. If the projections are correct, acres planted to corn would be the fewest since 2015. And acres planted to soybeans would equal the record number planted last year. The record number of corn acres planted in Nebraska is 10.2 million in 2020. NASS projects 91.9 million acres of corn will be planted nationwide, up 4 percent, and 87.5 million acres of soybeans, unchanged.

Figure 1. Percentage Changes in Planted Acres in Nebraska (Projected 2023 vs. 2022)

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

Figure 1 shows the percentage changes in planted acres between the projections released Friday and last year for several Nebraska crops. Acres planted to sunflowers are expected to see the largest percentage change, down 35 percent from last year. Dry bean acres are expected to be off 26 percent and grain sorghum acres are expected to be down 19 percent, equaling 260,000 acres. On the plus side, wheat acres are projected to exceed 1.1 million acres, a growth of 17 percent and acres planted to sugar beets are projected to grow 5 percent. Nebraska’s harvested hay crop, often under-appreciated for its size, is pegged at 2.2 million acres, up 3 percent. Nebraska is the seventh-largest state for hay acres harvested. 

The NASS report represents the best available market information on crop acres at present. Projected corn acres in the U.S. came in above what the trade expected, while soybean acres were below. Nebraska farmers typically have the corn crop planted by late May and the soybean crop in the ground by early June. Until farmers finish planting, the market will use the USDA projections moving forward to estimate supply. Batter (planter) up—the first pitch of spring planting is about to be thrown. 

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