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May 27, 2021

2021 U.S. Crop Acreage and Yield Potential

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

While we wait for the June Planted Report to be released on June 30th, there will continue to be widespread speculation concerning the 2021 U.S. corn and soybean acreage. In the March Prospective Planting Report, the USDA estimated that U.S. farmers would plant 91.1 million acres of corn and 87.6 million acres of soybeans in 2021.

Corn - Since the survey for the March report was conducted, there has been more interest in corn than in soybeans due to the price ratio. Planting has progressed faster than average, which generally favors more corn and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that farmers were interested in increasing their corn acreage. There will also be less prevent plant corn acres this year compared to recent years.

Therefore, I am going to estimate the 2021 U.S. corn acreage at 93 to 94 million acres. With 91.5% of the planted acreage being harvested for grain, the corn harvested acreage would then be 85.0 to 86.0 million acres.

The trend line corn yield used by the USDA is 179.5 bu/ac. At this point, I think trend line corn yields might be optimistic given the current dryness in the northwestern Corn Belt. The "soil moisture tank" in the northwestern Corn Belt is about a quarter full, so timely rains will be needed all summer to maintain the possibility of trend line corn yields in that part of the country. In order to be on the safe side, I am going to start off the 2021 growing season with a corn yield of 177.5 bu/ac. Therefore, my initial estimate for the 2021 U.S. corn production is 15.08 to 15.26 billion bushels.

Soybeans - It looks like U.S. farmers were more interested in increasing their corn acreage compared to soybeans due to the favorable price ratio for corn. Therefore, I am going to start off the 2021 U.S. growing season estimating that U.S. farmers will plant 87.0 to 88.0 million acres of soybeans. With 99% of the crop being harvested, the soybean harvested acreage is then estimated at 86.1 to 87.1 million acres.

The USDA is using a trend line soybean yield of 50.8 bushels per acres. At this point, I have no problem using a trend line yield for soybeans because as we all know, the soybean yield will be determined by the weather conditions during July and August. Soybeans can look ragged early in the growing season, but still end up with good yields if the weather is beneficial later in the summer.

Therefore, I am going to use a soybean yield of 50.8 bushels per acre and I am estimating the 2021 U.S. soybean production at 4.37 to 4.42 billion bushels.

With these strong soybean prices, U.S. farmers may try to plant a few additional double crop soybean acres after they harvest their soft red and hard red winter wheat. There is ample soil moisture in both of the areas where the wheat is grown, so if a farmer ever thought about planting some additional double crop soybeans, this would be the year. As a result, there could be some additional double crop soybeans planted this year in the mid-South and the southern Midwest as well as part of the southern Plains.