WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. farmers intend to boost 2012 corn planted area by 4% and all wheat acreage by 3% but trim soybean area by 1% from 2011 levels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on March 30 in its annual Prospective Plantings report.

Planted wheat area for harvest in 2012 was forecast at 55,908,000 acres, up 3% from 54,409,000 acres seeded last year, the USDA said.

Winter wheat area seeded in 2011 for harvest in 2012 was estimated at 41,709,000 acres, up 3% from 40,646,000 acres last year but down 1% from the January estimate of 41,947,000 acres. The winter wheat estimate includes 29.9 million acres of hard red, 8.4 million acres of soft red and 3.5 million acres of white.

Farmers intend to plant 2,223,000 acres of durum in 2012, up 62% from 1,369,000 acres last year, and 11,976,000 acres of spring wheat other than durum, down 3% from 12,394,000 acres in 2011. The spring wheat area includes 11.3 million acres of hard red spring wheat.

“Nationally, more acres were seeded this year due to higher prices and acreage rebounds in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, where dry conditions had limited 2011 planted acres,” the USDA said of winter wheat seedings. “If realized, planted acres will be record highs in North Carolina and North Dakota but record lows in Nebraska and Ohio.”

The USDA all wheat planting number was well below the trade average near 57.5 million acres, with other spring wheat also well below the trade estimate of 13.4 million acres, durum near the trade average of 2.3 million acres and winter wheat below the trade forecast of 42 million acres. The report was called bullish for wheat futures prices.

Farmers indicated they intend to plant 95,864,000 acres of corn in 2012, up 4% from 91,921,000 acres in 2011 and up 9% from 88,192,000 acres in 2010.

“If realized, this will represent the highest planted acreage in the United States since 1937 when an estimated 97.2 million acres were planted,” the USDA said. “Record corn acreage is expected in Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, while acreage is expected to decrease in the central and southern Great Plains which experienced severe drought and above normal temperatures in 2011.”

The USDA corn planting number was well above the average trade expectation that was near 94.7 million acres. Old crop corn futures were expected to open higher because lower-than-expected March 1 corn stocks more than offset the higher-than-expected corn plantings number.
Growers intend to plant 73,902,000 acres of soybeans in 2012, down 1% from 74,976,000 acres in 2011 and down 5% from 77,404,000 acres in 2010.

“Compared with 2011, planted area is down or unchanged across the Corn Belt and Great Plains with the exceptions of Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin,” the USDA said. The USDA soybean planting number was below the average trade estimate of 75.5 million acres and was called bullish for soybean futures prices.