Size of planted acreage shift could generate volatility

An ag economist suggests Thursday’s Prospective Plantings report could spark volatility in the grain markets.

Chad Hart with Iowa State University says recent private estimates indicate the shift to more soybean and fewer corn acres in 2024 could be smaller than what USDA forecast during its Ag Outlook Forum in mid-February.

“If the shift is not as large, that means we’re planting more corn. And that’s why I think we’re seeing some hesitancy in the corn market in the runup here to the report because of the fear of additional acres appearing in the corn part of the ledger.”

He tells Brownfield early USDA estimates showed a three-to-four-million-acre shift from corn to soybeans, but new private estimates reflect about half that.

“I think something that’s weighing in on the private industry estimates is the idea that we do look like we may have an early planting window here, and typically that does favor corn.”

Hart says he’ll also be watching cotton.

“Cotton prices have been strengthening, that’s helping maybe gain them some acres there, we are going to see a shift between corn and soybeans. So we are moving a fair number of acres among the crops this year, and that definitely can lead to more volatility within the markets this spring.”

USDA’s Prospective Plantings and Quarterly Grain Stocks reports will be released Thursday at 11AM Central.

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