There are three issues that are important for corn and soybeans as they compete for acreage in 2011, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

“First, there’s the question of how many acres of these crops are needed to meet consumption needs at ‘reasonable’ prices. Second, how many acres are available for planting of all crops in 2011? Third, what is the likely strength of competition from other crops?” he said.

According to Good, planted acreage of corn in 2010 in the United States totaled 88.222 million acres, 1.74 million more than were planted in 2009, but 5.305 million fewer than planted in 2007. Planted acreage of soybeans in 2010 was a record 77.714 million, 263,000 more than planted in 2009.

“Acreage of all crops was about 2 million less than planted in 2009. Although the mix of crops changed from 2009 to 2010, the overall decline reflected a reduction of about 2.3 million acres of double-cropped soybeans. Current strong demand and high prices of grains, oilseeds, and cotton have triggered intense interest in acreage needs for 2011,” he said.

The size of the corn and soybean crops needed in 2011 depends on the expected size of stocks at the end of the current year, expected market size in 2011-12, and desired level of stocks at the end of the 2011-12 marketing year, Good said.

These factors are not known with certainty, and assessments will change between now and spring planting. Prospective year-ending stocks will become more clear as consumption is revealed over the next several months and with the release of the Dec. 1, 2010 and March 1, 2011 stocks estimates. Market size will be influenced by the strength of demand, price levels, the size of crops in the southern hemisphere, and 2011 production prospects in the rest of the northern hemisphere, he added.