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USDA Reports Flash

WASHINGTON (DTN) — There are more soybeans than ever in the U.S. right now — and more on the way.

Quarterly soybean stocks swelled to a record 2.11 billion bushels, up a whopping 21% from March 2017, and at the high end of pre-report analyst estimates.

At the same time, soybeans were crowned king of the commodities after USDA estimated 89 million acres will be planted in 2018, with corn trailing behind at 88 million acres.

Both acreage estimates are below last year’s numbers (down 2% for corn and 1% for soybeans), a consequence of large grain surpluses and low commodity prices facing farmers in 2018.

The estimates come from USDA’s Prospective Plantings report and Quarterly Grain Stocks report, which lists grain stocks as of March 1, the halfway point in the marketing year for corn and soybeans, and three-quarters for wheat.

USDA’s Prospective Plantings estimates are bullish for new-crop corn and soybeans and neutral to bearish for new-crop wheat, said DTN Analyst Todd Hultman. USDA’s March 1 Grain Stocks estimates were bearish for corn and soybeans, but neutral for wheat, he said.

For the full Prospective Plantings and Quarterly Grain Stocks reports, visit: http://www.nass.usda.gov/…

SOYBEANS

The USDA estimate of 2.11 billion bushels of soybean stocks follows a disappointing marketing quarter for the crop. Disappearance between December 2017 and February 2018 was just 1.05 billion bushels, down 9% from the same time period last year.

Off-farm stocks were pegged at 1.25 billion bushels, up 17% from last March, and on-farm stocks were pegged at 855 million bushels, up 28% from last March.

This year marks the first time since 1983 that soybean acres have overtaken corn. That was the year USDA instituted the Payment-In-Kind program, which paid farmers not to produce certain crops, including corn, in an effort to reduce grain surpluses. As a result, farmers planted 63.8 million soybean acres and just 60.2 million corn acres that year.

USDA expects 20 of the 31 states will plant fewer or the same soybean acres, with decreases of 100,000 acres or more anticipated in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina and Ohio. If realized, soybean acres in Indiana, Kentucky, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will be the largest on record.

CORN

At 88 million, corn acres are down 2.14 million from last year, marking the lowest corn acreage since 2015.

USDA expects corn acreage to be down or unchanged across most of the major corn-producing states in 2018, with the exception of Ohio. Acreage decreases of 300,000 or more are anticipated in Kansas, Minnesota and North Dakota.

USDA estimated that corn stocks as of March 1 were a record 8.89 billion bushels, up 3% from last year. Of the total stocks, 5 billion bushels were stored on farm, up 2% from last year, and 3.89 billion bushels were stored off farm, up 5% from last year.

For this marketing quarter, USDA estimated that corn disappearance from December 2017 through February 2017 was 3.68 billion bushels, down 2% from the same time period last year.

WHEAT

Farmers are projected to plant 47.3 million acres of wheat, up 3% from last year but still the second-lowest wheat acreage on record for the U.S. since records began in 1919.

Winter wheat acres are pegged at 32.7 million acres, up slightly from last year, but the second-lowest acreage since 1909. Spring wheat is projected at 12.6 million acres, up 15% from last year and well above pre-report analyst estimates. Durum acres were pegged 2 million, down 13% from last year.

USDA estimated all-wheat stocks as of March 1 at 1.49 billion bushels, down 10% from last year. For this marketing quarter, USDA estimated wheat disappearance at 379 million bushels, down 10% from last year.

Of those total stocks, 259 million were stored on-farm, down 26% from last year, and 1.24 billion bushels, down 6% since last year.

COTTON

Farmers are expected to plant 13.5 million cotton acres, up 7% from last year and above pre-report analyst expectations. If realized, it will be the highest planted cotton acreage since 2011.

USDA said strong crop prices relative to competing crops, as well as changes to the 2014 Farm Bill beginning with the 2018 crop, are driving the acreage increases for cotton.

Growers across the Cotton Belt are expected to plant more cotton, with Kansas poised to set a record for upland cotton at 93,000 acres, with an overall cotton acre increase of 140%. If realized, Oklahoma’s cotton acreage this year will be the highest since 1961, and Georgia and Texas’ cotton acreage will be the highest since 2011.

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QUARTERLY GRAIN STOCKS (million bushels)
3/1/18 Average High Low 12/1/17 3/1/17
Corn 8,888 8,713 8,881 8,500 12,516 8,622
Soybeans 2,107 2,042 2,110 1,870 3,157 1,739
Wheat 1,494 1,486 1,620 1,450 1,874 1,659
Grain Sorghum 138 155 170 140 226 181
PROSPECTIVE PLANTINGS
ACREAGE (million acres) USDA USDA
3/29/18 Average High Low 2017-18 3/31/17
Corn 88.0 89.3 91.0 88.4 90.2 90.0
Soybeans 89.0 90.9 92.1 89.9 90.1 89.5
Cotton 13.5 13.1 13.4 12.8 12.6 12.2
Grain Sorghum 5.9 6.0 6.6 5.4 5.6 5.8
All Wheat 47.3 46.5 47.2 45.7 46.0 46.1
Winter 32.7 32.6 32.7 32.2 32.7 32.7
Spring 12.6 11.6 12.0 10.9 11.0 11.3
Durum 2.0 2.4 2.7 2.2 2.3 2.0
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