In addition to the plantings report, USDA-NASS also released its March Grain Stocks report. The report shows the availability of grain stocks in the U.S. as of March 1.



The U.S. has about 6 billion bushels of corn stocks, about 140 million bushels lower than what trade markets expected, according to the report.

Soybean stocks came in at 1.372 billion bushels, up 11 million bushels from expectations.



"It's no surprise to anyone that these numbers are down substantially from where they were a year ago," Alexander said.

"Where the surprises come in is that they're down even more than expected. Because of the difference, we're expecting this to be pretty bullish for old crop corn prices. The report is pretty neutral on soybeans because the trade had pretty good estimates of what the stocks report would say.



But even with soybean stocks slightly better than expected, prices have been on the rise. And with the influx of a lot of new crop corn on the horizon, Hurt said growers might want to reconsider their planting intentions.



"As we look at the implications of these reports, I think one of the clear ones is that the very large corn acreage will depress new crop corn prices, but the low soybean acreage will be overall increasing to new crop prices of beans," he said.

"The market now, in the next several days or weeks, is going to try to still buy more bean acres. So I think producers should rethink that corn and soybean mix, or at least redo their calculations and put beans a little bit higher in their priorities this year."



According to Hurt, soybean futures prices as of March 29 were about $25 per acre more profitable than corn. 

Hurt and Alexander estimated that with an average 2012 crop yield, the national average corn price could be about $5.25 per bushel and beans about $11.75.

In that case, Midwest farmers would see the highest soybean revenues and second-highest corn revenues in history.

 But the high revenues don't tell the whole story. The cost of producing those crops is up an estimated 15-20 percent this year, so the total returns actually will be down somewhat from 2011.


"The returns are coming down, but they're coming down from record-high levels," Hurt said.



Following Friday's reports, Hurt and Alexander hosted a free webinar to discuss implications. The webinar has been archived and can be viewed at https://www.agecon.purdue.edu/cab/march30outlook/

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The reports can be read in their entirety on the USDA-NASS website at http://www.nass.usda.gov/.