Season of uncertainty

IFB FIIC speaker says supply discovery will be slow process.

By Dan Grant

Those still upset or confused by USDA’s June corn acreage projection could have to wait months for clarity.

The Ag Department shocked traders and farmers June 30 when it pegged corn plantings this season at 91.7 million acres, more than 5 million acres above the average trade guess.

Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois ag economist, will be a featured speaker at the Illinois Farm Bureau Farm Income and Innovations Conference (FIIC) in Normal July 31.

“The corn acreage number was a bit of a shock, but I personally don’t believe that number is correct,” Hubbs told FarmWeek. “We could have seen the base of corn acres expand. Prevent plant acres could be incorporated in that.”

USDA begins the next round of quantifying what exactly got planted in recent months when it resurveys farmers this month to readjust planted acreage estimates in August.

In fact, farmers will play a prominent role in USDA’s August crop production report as the Ag Department won’t include traditional estimates taken from National Agricultural Statistics Service enumerators’ field counts and measurements (the objective yield survey) for that report. USDA instead plans to rely on the agricultural yield survey based on farmers’ projections for that report.

“The August numbers will be on farmers, for the most part,” Hubbs said. “They (at USDA) do have satellite data they look at, but farmers will have a say.”

But the acreage estimates likely won’t gain precision until the Farm Service Agency’s certified acreage data becomes available in October.

USDA trimmed its estimate for soybean plantings 10% from its March projection to just 80 million acres.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty with the acreage numbers and with yield potential,” Hubbs said. “A lot of corn and beans were planted in poor conditions. I think yields will suffer for it.

“I think the August crop report may have a better indication, but it may only matter if (USDA) is able to clarify in the survey exactly how many acres were planted, prevent planted or silage acres for that matter,” he added. “I think the uncertainty is going to last through the summer as we figure out how many prevent plant acres are out there. It’s going to be a slow process for the market to discover the true underlying supply scenario for spring crops.”

Recent reports suggest prevented plant acres this year could total a record of anywhere from 10 million to 15 million acres.

For more information about the FIIC event, contact your local Farm Bureau office or visit the website.

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