DES MOINES (AP) — Farmers intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn this year, the most since 1936, the USDA’s spring planting survey said Thursday.
The survey said the 2013 corn planting forecast is up slightly from last year’s 97.2 million acres.
Corn remains profitable, as prices are holding strong at around $7 per bushel after last year’s severe drought left the grain in short supply. In a separate report, the USDA said corn stocks fell 10 percent from a year ago to 5.40 billion bushels.
Record corn acreage is expected in Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota and Oregon. The nation’s leading corn producer, Iowa, will plant an estimated 14.2 million acres in corn, the same as last year.
But some states that suffered significantly during last year’s drought — the worst since the 1950s — expect to plant slightly less corn acreage: Illinois’ acres are down 5 percent to 12.2 million and Nebraska corn acres are down 1 percent at 9.9 million acres.
Darrel Good, an agriculture economics professor at the University of Illinois, said with plenty of land available for planting, the weather now becomes a focal point.
“The attention will focus very quickly on planting weather and thoughts of yield prospects,” he said. “The question is what kind of summer we’re going to have.”
The report said farmers plan to plant 77.1 million acres in soybeans, a small decline from 2012’s 77.2 million acres but still the fourth highest on record.
Iowa soybean acres are expected to rise 1 percent to 9.4 million acres, and Nebraska is expected to see soybeans acres fall about 6 percent to 4.7 million.