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2024 U.S. Corn Acres Predicted to Fall, Soybeans Increase

United States farmers are predicted to plant 90 million acres of corn and 86.5 million acres of soybeans this year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Prospective Plantings report released Thursday. 

The corn planted acreage of 90 million is “down 5% or 4.61 million acres from last year,” the USDA said in its report. “Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be down or unchanged in 38 of the 48 estimating states.” For soybeans, the planted area of 86.5 million acres is “up 3% from last year,” the USDA said. “Compared with last year, planted acreage is up or unchanged in 24 of the 29 estimating states.”

U.S. corn and soybean planted acres, since 2004. Courtesy of the USDA.

U.S. farmers are also predicted to plant 47.5 million acres of wheat in 2024, according to the USDA’s report, which is “down 4% from 2023.” That 47.5 million acre estimate includes 34.1 million acres of winter wheat, 11.3 million acres of spring wheat and 2.03 million acres of durum wheat.

Amanda Brill, market advisor with Total Farm Marketing, told Successful Farming’s Cassidy Walter that the report’s main surprise “was the USDA’s estimation of corn planted acres at 90 million. I think a lot of people were expecting the average of the trade guesses, which was around 92 million.”

Al Kluis, managing director of Kluis Commodity Advisors, told Walter that “corn, soybean, and wheat overall acres are down year-over-year by about 3.8 million and to me the big question is where did those acres go? Did farmers decide not to plant in the fringe areas? Will we see more hay and CRP acres? My other big takeaway today is farmers appear to be playing defense rather than offense by cutting back on expensive inputs and corn acres and increasing soybean and spring wheat acres.”

Grain Stocks

The USDA also released its March Grain Stocks report, which showed that stocks of corn, wheat and soybeans were all up significantly over their levels in March 2023. The report said that “corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2024 totaled 8.35 billion bushels, up 13% from March 1, 2023.”

“Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2024 totaled 1.85 billion bushels, up 9% from March 1, 2023,” according to the report. “All wheat stored in all positions on March 1, 2024 totaled 1.09 billion bushels, up 16% from a year ago.”

Farmdoc’s Joe Janzen said in the WillAg Closing Market report on Thursday that, while the stocks numbers were in line with analyst expectations, the surprise was that “those bushels are much more substantially than in the past being held on farm. The corn stocks and the soybeans stocks were very much in line with last year in terms of off-farm stocks, but on-farm stocks growing by 20% to 25% relative to a year ago at this time.”

“That means the farmer has a significant marketing challenge ahead of him in what looks to be pretty challenging marketing conditions,” Janzen said.

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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