Our Take on the 2017 USDA Acreage Report
A lot of interesting reports are coming out of the USDA at this time of year. The USDA Acreage report confirmed the data from the prior quarter’s Prospective Plantings report: corn acres are down, soy acres are at a record high, wheat acres are at a long-time low, and cotton acres are up.
More acreage planted to soybeans seemed like a sure bet last year during planning in the US, particularly since the lower input cost was attractive to farmers on the edge of profitability. However, it will be very interesting to see if the world’s demand for soybeans can keep up with production. US prices remain strong so far, with some contract highs for beans and meal, but analysts expect that soy prices will settle back down as the world demand for soybeans is strongly served by Brazil and Argentina. With both countries facing faltering economies, selling commodities for dollars is a hedge against inflation of their native currencies. Brazil is on pace for record-setting soybean production, exceeding all predictions with excellent yields despite slightly lower acreage.
Acreage also reports the area planted to biotechnology varieties, and whether those varieties are Insect Resistant (IR), Herbicide Tolerant (HT), or stacked with both. This year is pretty much on par with 2015 and 2016 as far as the limited but steady percentage of non-GMO acreage. It has been interesting over the years to see the rise in biotech acreage, as well as the growing popularity of stacked varieties.