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Increase in corn acres a surprise to everyone

Farmers worked long hours to plant more corn than last year, according to the USDA acreage report.

This year’s planting estimate numbers released by the USDA on June 30 show the dynamic capabilities of Ohio farmers. It also demonstrates the need for modern farming technology to get crops in the ground in record time.

Most Ohio farmers were delayed in planting due to one of the wettest springs in history.

Yet the USDA estimates farmers planted more corn this year than last year, with figures showing that Ohio’s farmers put 3.5 million acres of corn in the ground in 2011, up from last year’s 3.45 million planted corn acres.

“Thirty years ago this would not have been an option,” said Mark Wachtman, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers (OCWGA) president and Henry County farmer. “Technology such as using GPS to guide in planting, allows us to plant quickly and do it right the first time. Also, biotech seeds make it possible to have a shorter growing season under adverse weather conditions.”

But, OCWGA CEO Dwayne Siekman says keep in mind the figures are still estimates.

“These are rough estimates from the US Department of Agriculture,” said OCWGA CEO Dwayne Siekman. “But this year has shown the tenacity of Ohio farmers to work round the clock to get the job done to provide corn for food, feed and fuel.”

Nonetheless, farmers across the country are scratching their heads over the acreage report showing a whopping 92.3 million acres of U.S. corn plantings this year. Most expected less acreage due to adverse weather conditions that delayed planting over much of the Corn Belt.

Todd Davis, crops economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, said the USDA acreage report signals a potential U.S. corn crop of 13.47 billion bushels, which will be needed to re-build stocks and meet feed and fuel demand. But he cautions that a lot can happen to the corn crop from now until harvest.

“We have a lot of hurdles to jump to reach a harvest of 13.47 billion bushels of corn this year,” Davis said. “The weather throughout the Corn Belt will have to cooperate in July and August for farmers to get strong yields and we would have to harvest the 84.8 million acres projected in the June 30 acreage survey.”

Still, Davis said the acreage report released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service caught everyone by surprise. Most analysts were expecting USDA to peg corn plantings anywhere from 89.5 million acres to 91.5 million acres.

“I don’t think anybody was expecting more than 92 million corn acres this year,” Davis  said. “From the coffee shops to the trading floor, everybody you talked to expected USDA to reduce its corn acreage from the March 31 prospective plantings report because of all the weather headaches farmers are having this year. USDA actually moved up its 2011 corn acreage slightly from its March 31 prospective plantings forecast.”

If realized, the 92.3 million acre U.S. corn crop will be 5% larger than last year when 88.19 million acres were planted. U.S. corn acreage planted in 2011 would be the second-highest since 1944, behind only the 93.5 million acres planted in 2007.

“The market was signaling a need for more corn acres this year and farmers responded,” Davis said. “Most of the acreage gains are coming from the western Corn Belt. USDA found more acres in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.  This off-set the reduced acreage in the eastern Corn Belt.”

Here is the complete areage report

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