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USDA Projects Decreased 2024 Planted Acreage

The United States Department of Agriculture reported Thursday that “initial expectations for 2024 planted area are for a decline in total planted area of corn, wheat, and soybeans relative to the previous year. Combined acreage for the three crops is projected at 225.5 million acres — a decline of about 1 percent reflecting expectations of lower prices and a reversion to a more typical level of prevent plant acres.”

Planted area is expected to be 47.0 million acres for wheat (down from 49.6 million acres in 2023), 91 million acres for corn (down from 94.6 million acres) and 87.5 million acres for soybeans (up from 83.6 million acres).

Wheat, Corn and Soybeans Planted Acreage. Courtesy of the USDA.

“Among the three main crops, wheat area is projected decline the most, with relatively favorable prices for competing crops such as cotton and sorghum,” USDA reported. “Soybean area is expected to increase as demand for soybeans in the United States is expected to be driven by stronger demand for domestic crush — largely driven by growth in biofuel use while exports likely face competition from supplies in South America during the 2024/25 U.S. marketing year.”

Corn Production and Yield

For 2024, the USDA reported that the “corn crop is projected at 15.040 billion bushels, down about 2 percent from the prior year’s record.” That production includes a yield projection of 181 bushels per acre, which “is based on a weather-adjusted trend assuming normal planting progress and summer growing season weather.”

Farmdoc’s Scott Irwin said during a webinar last week that, despite a few years of lackluster yield growth over recent years, 181 bushels per acre is a very realistic yield expectation for the 2024 corn crop that is essentially on target with trend line yield growth expectations. In fact, according to his research, Irwin said there is a chance that yields could be even higher.

“I believe in that trend, that means we have a one in five chance of a trend yield of basically 191 bushels or higher,” he said. “A 190 yield would put us well over a 16 billion bushel corn crop. I want to be careful, I’m not saying that’s going to happen. There’s basically an 80% chance of something lower than that yield, but a 20% chance is something we should be aware of.”

Soybean Production and Yield

For soybeans, the USDA projects production of “4.5 billion bushels, 8 percent above a year earlier, and assumes a weather-adjusted trend yield of 52.0 bushels per acre.”

Progressive Farmer’s Todd Hultman said that “the early estimate is a reasonable start for a season we don’t know much about, but the estimate will be challenged this spring. It remains to be seen if farmers will increase soybean plantings from 83.6 million in 2023 to 87.5 million acres of soybeans without much incentive.”

Wheat Production and Yield

For wheat, the USDA reported that “production is projected five percent above 2023/24 at 1,900 million bushels and would be the largest harvest in five years.”

“While planted area is forecast lower than the previous year, harvested area increases year-to-year, as abandonment is expected to return to normal levels following two years of drought conditions in the Southern Plains,” the USDA reported. “The all wheat yield for 2024/25 is projected up two percent from last year at 49.5 bushels per acre and is based on a long-term linear trend.”

Ryan Hanrahan is the farm policy news editor and social media director for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked in local news, primarily as an agriculture journalist in the American West. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri (B.S. Science & Agricultural Journalism).

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