U.S. grain farmers this spring intend to plant the nation's biggest corn acreage since 1937, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Friday (March 30).

According to the Prospective Plantings Report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the nation's growers indicated they would plant 95.9 million acres of corn, up more than 4 percent, or nearly 4 million acres, from 2011. 

They also expected to plant 73.9 million acres of soybeans, down 1.4 percent, or more than 1 million acres, from 2011.

The projections are based on an early March survey of growers nationwide.

"It's obviously important to see where producers are at right here at the beginning of the planting season," said Chris Hurt, Purdue Extension agricultural economist.

"They are saying they're going to be very heavy in corn planting here in the Midwest, so overall, there are big numbers on corn acreage, but low acreage intentions on soybeans."

In Indiana, producers said they would increase corn plantings by 200,000 acres, but reduce soybean acreage by the same amount.

Ohio growers said they would increase corn acres even more substantially with a 400,000-acre jump. Growers expected Ohio soybean acres to stay the same.

"The increase in Indiana corn acreage is going to come entirely out of soybean acreage," said Corinne Alexander, Purdue Extension agricultural economist.

"Ohio's soybean acres are flat, so the largest portion of that corn acreage increase is going to come from a reduction in wheat acres. What doesn't come from wheat acres, we expect largely to come from 2011's prevented planting acres and from conservation land."