This spring, U.S. farmers planted more corn, soybeans, rice and cotton and fewer acres to wheat compared to 2003, according to USDA's June 30 planted acreage report.

Corn planted acreage is up 3 percent from last year; soybeans, 2 percent; cotton 3 percent; rice, 10 percent; and all wheat is down 3 percent, according to report.

Cotton plantings for 2004 are expected to total 13.9 million acres. That's up from last year, but down from March intentions of 14.4 million acres. In 11 of the 17 cotton producing states, upland growers decreased planted acres from their spring intentions and seeded alternative crops. The largest declines in cotton acreage occurred in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas where each was down 100,000 acres from March.

According to C. William Otto, vice president, futures, A.G. Edwards and Sons, the newest cotton estimate “is slightly higher than the average trade guess of around 13.7 million acres.”

USDA estimated rice acreage at 3.346 million acres, up 10 percent over 2004. Acreage increased in all rice producing states except Mississippi, where acreage remained unchanged from last year at 235,000 acres. Arkansas acreage was estimated at 1.541 million acres; California, 618,000 acres; Louisiana, 550,000 acres; Missouri, 190,000 acres; and Texas, 212,000 acres.

Corn planted area was estimated at 81 million acres, up 1.96 million acres from March intentions and a little higher than average trade estimates. According to USDA, planting conditions during April and May across much of the Corn Belt were near ideal. Similar conditions were experienced in the northern and central Great Plains.

However, planting progress slowed after mid-May as heavy rains fell in many areas of the Corn Belt. Growers in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin experienced the most rainfall which prevented them from planting some of their acres originally intended for corn.

Farmers reported that 98 percent of the corn acreage had been planted at the time of the survey interview, which is 1 percentage point above the average for the past 10 years.

Soybean area was estimated at 74.8 million acres, up 2 percent from last year and down 602,000 acres from March. If realized, this will be the largest planted area on record and a rebound from the three year decline in acreage. Area for harvest, at 73.7 million acres, is also up 2 percent from 2003.

Area planted increased or was unchanged from last year in all states except Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Growers in Illinois and Iowa showed the largest decreases in soybeans planted from 2003, but showed comparable increases in acres planted to corn. Farmers reported that 87 percent of the intended soybean acreage had been planted at the time of the survey interview, compared to an average of 78 percent for the past 10 years.

All wheat planted area was estimated at 59.9 million acres, with harvested acres expected to total 50.7 million acres, down 4 percent from last year. Winter wheat planted area, at 43.5 million acres, is 3 percent below last year, but up fractionally from the previous estimate.

e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com