Two Purdue University agricultural economists will help farmers make sense of an annual U.S. Department of Agriculture spring planting intentions report in a free webinar.

Corinne Alexander and Chris Hurt will offer analysis and market strategies for producers heading into the 2011 crop season during Prospective Plantings Outlook. The program takes place 7-8:30 p.m. ET (6-7:30 p.m. CT) March 31. Farmers can view the webinar online or at 24 county offices of Purdue Extension.

The program comes hours after the USDA issues its much-anticipated Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks reports.

"What Chris and I intend to do with the outlook is give U.S. farmers an update on the information that was presented in the USDA reports, what it means for U.S. and world grain markets, and the likely price impacts that are coming," Alexander said. "In addition, we're going to offer some strategies for pricing crops, and, hopefully, capturing some of the revenue that will be offered by these markets."

Every year before the start of spring planting the USDA surveys farmers on what they expect to plant and the number of acres they intend to dedicate to those crops. That information is the basis for the department's plantings report.

This year's report promises to be pored over as much as any in recent memory, Alexander said. World stocks of principle grains are below traditional levels, sending crop prices skyrocketing in the past year.

"When you look at grain markets across the board, we're in a situation where we've got incredibly tight inventories and incredibly tight ending stocks," Alexander said. "What that means is that the anticipated production for this coming summer is critically important in determining the value of the crops and what the prices of those crops are going to be.

"Any news in the market that shifts expectations on what U.S. farmers are going to plant is going to have a major impact on prices."

In any given year the difference between what farmers tell the USDA they intend to plant and what actually goes into the ground can shift by 5 million acres or more, Alexander said.

"That's a fairly major shift," she said.

To watch the webinar live, log onto https://www.gomeet.itap.purdue.edu/march31-2011outlook/ just before the program begins, provide a name in the "Enter as a guest" box and click "Enter room." The Adobe Connect webinar allows viewers to submit questions via a message box.

The webinar will be recorded and archived for later viewing on the Purdue Department of Agricultural Economics website, located at http://www.agecon.purdue.edu