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April 2, 2007

USDA's report shows highest U.S. corn acreage since 1944

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Farmers have responded to the corn ethanol boom by indicating they will plant the largest corn acreage in the United States since 1944.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's March 30 Prospective Plantings report shows that growers plan to plant 90.5 million acres of corn, a 12.1-million-acre increase over the 2006 corn crop.

"Those added acres come primarily from shifting acres from soybeans, cotton and spring wheat," said Chris Hurt, Purdue University agricultural economics specialist.

Soybean acreage is expected to be down 8.4 million acres, and spring wheat acreage is projected to decline by 1.1 million acres.

Indiana producers were no exception, as corn acreage is expected to be up by 13 percent. Indiana producers indicated they will plant 6.2 million acres of corn, up 700,000 acres and the highest number of acres planted since 1985. Acres planted to soybeans is expected to drop to 5 million, the lowest since 1995.

Corn for ethanol production is expected to surge by at least 65 percent for the 2007 corn crop compared to last year's crop, Hurt said. This expected surge caused corn prices to be very high during the winter, which led producers to increase acreage to meet the growing demand, he said.

If the final corn acreage planted is close to the 90.5 million acres with normal yields, production could reach 12.5 billion bushels this fall. This would allow some further expansion of ethanol and meet most of the continuing corn needs of the livestock industry and foreign buyers.

"Weather conditions that threaten normal yields could jeopardize the expected growth in ethanol production and increase food prices," Hurt said. "With corn's strong demand, everyone will be watching the weather closely this spring and summer."

The huge drop in soybean acreage will reduce this year's national crop to 2.7 billion bushels. However, there will be a large inventory of unused 2006 crop beans that will mean total supplies near 3.3 billion bushels, with usage expected to be near 3.1 billion bushels. There will be sufficient soybeans for the 2007-08 marketing year, but supplies will be tightening and prices will tend to move upward as a result, Hurt said. For soybeans as well as corn, a favorable weather year is needed to avoid shortages and much higher prices, he said.

Writer: Julie Douglas, (765) 496-1050, douglajk@purdue.edu

Source: Chris Hurt, (765) 494-4273, hurtc@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
Agriculture News Page

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