USDA projects decreased planted commodity acres in 2024

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has unveiled its forecast for the upcoming 2024-2025 crop year, predicting a reduction in the acreage dedicated to key crops such as corn, wheat, and soybeans, alongside a projected dip in commodity prices compared to prior seasons.

This outlook, informed by insights from the January 12 National Agricultural Statistics Service Wheat and Canola Seedings report, relies on the assumption of typical weather patterns during the forthcoming planting and growing periods.

The anticipated total acreage for corn, wheat, and soybeans stands at 225.5 million acres, marking a slight 1 percent decline from the previous year, primarily driven by expectations of reduced prices and a return to standard levels of prevent plant acres. Projections suggest that the season-average farm prices for these commodities will dip below 2023 levels and fall short of the three-year average.

While the planted area is forecast to be lower than last year, the harvested area is expected to increase year-to-year as abandonment returns to normal levels following two years of drought in the Southern Plains. 

Image by Jon Rehg, Shutterstock

In Illinois, often viewed as a Corn Belt benchmark, production costs have notably decreased compared to the previous year, with fertilizer prices, such as anhydrous ammonia, plummeting nearly 40 percent and diesel expenses down by 20 percent. However, there has been a marginal uptick in interest costs.

The corn production forecast for the upcoming year anticipates a yield of 15.040 billion bushels, showing a slight 2 percent decline from the record set in the previous year, with an estimated planted area of 91.0 million acres. Despite expectations of increased domestic use and exports, the corn crop is likely to yield higher ending stocks. Projections indicate an average corn price of $4.40 per bushel, representing a decrease of 40 cents from the preceding year.

Moving on to soybeans, the outlook suggests augmented supplies, utilization, and ending stocks, coupled with a decrease in prices. Projections for soybean production stand at 4.5 billion bushels, reflecting an 8 percent surge from the previous year. The soybean crush is poised to hit a record high of 2.4 billion bushels, fueled by the expanding biofuel sector, while exports are also expected to climb. The average soybean price is forecasted at $11.20 per bushel, marking a decline of $1.45 compared to the 2023-2024 figures.

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The upcoming year’s wheat production is anticipated to rise by 5 percent compared to the previous year, reaching 1,900 million bushels, with total projected usage also increasing by 2 percent over the same period. However, wheat exports are expected to linger below the long-term average. The season-average farm price for wheat is estimated at $6.00 per bushel, marking a decline of $1.20 from the 2023-2024 figures.

Regarding rice, the outlook for 2024-2025 foresees higher supplies owing to larger beginning stocks and record-high imports, with total production remaining nearly unchanged. All rice ending stocks are projected to reach their highest level since 2014/15. The average farm price for all rice is expected to decrease by $1.60 per cwt to $16.80.

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