Farmers will be venturing into fields to plant this year’s crop within the next week or two. On que, the USDA-NASS last week released its estimates of prospective plantings. If the estimates hold, Nebraska farmers will plant a record number of acres to principal crops.
Total acres devoted to principal crops in Nebraska are estimated to be 19.8 million acres, up 1.1 percent compared to last year, and a record level. The USDA-NASS also estimates Nebraska farmers will plant 9.9 million acres of corn, off 2.9 percent compared to last year, and 5.8 million acres of soybeans, up 5.8 percent. If realized, it would be the fewest acres planted to corn since 2018, but a record number of acres planted to soybeans. Nebraska farmers planted 5.7 million acres of soybeans in both 2017 and 2018. The bump in soybean acres was expected because of a relatively high soybean-to-corn price ratio this year, signaling to farmers the market wants more soybeans planted.
Nationwide USDA-NASS estimates 91.1 million acres of corn will be planted, up less than 1 percent, and 87.6 million acres of soybeans, up 5 percent. Both estimates are less than projections made at the USDA’s 2021 Agricultural Outlook Forum earlier this year. The corn estimate is also below the average trade estimate and below the range of trade estimates, 92–94.5 million acres. The soybean estimate is within the range of trade guesses but still below the trade average of 90 million acres. In all, the prospective plantings report was viewed as bullish and commodity markets last week responded accordingly.
Table 1. Prospective Plantings for Nebraska Crops
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
Table 1 lists USDA prospective planting estimates for other Nebraska crops. Grain sorghum acres are expected to see the largest percentage change, up 54 percent over last year. Nebraska’s harvested hay crop, often under-appreciated for its size, is pegged at 2.7 million acres, down 1 percent from last year. Nebraska is tied with Oklahoma as the fifth-largest state for the number of hay acres harvested. Only Texas, Missouri, Montana, and South Dakota rank above Nebraska. And finally, a Nebraska streak continues, as the USDA in forecasting no rice will be planted in Nebraska this year. This continues a consecutive year streak since records have been kept where no rice has been planted in Nebraska. However, the author does not vouch for the accuracy of the previous statement—it’s merely a hunch.