Corn acreage likely to shrink in 2014

Corn country may have a little less corn in 2014 because of falling prices.

Corn hit $8 a bushel in 2012 but skidded badly last year. The present price is closer to $4 a bushel.

Jeffrey Coulter, extension agronomist with the University of Minnesota Extension, said many of the Minnesota farmers he's talked to are planning on planting more soybeans than in the past few years.

"I'm not sure if that means there will be less corn," Coulter said. "Right now, a lot of people are excited about soybeans."

As planting time approaches and planned acreage numbers go out, that may change commodity prices in Chicago, Coulter said. "It might trend upward for corn, if we see a lot of soybeans," he said.


Also, farmers recognize that soybeans can be a challenging crop on a lot of Minnesota soils, while corn consistently gets good yields.

Corn prices might have dropped because there was so much corn planted last year and yields were good, although not in southeastern Minnesota. "It was a good year for the corn belt," he said.

The abundance of corn made prices fall.Corn stockpiles have risen faster than at any time since 1994, noted a Bloomberg survey.

U.S. farmers aren't the only ones who have planted more corn in recent years. Corn & Soybean Digest added that high corn prices increased corn production around the world by 45 percent since 2005.

That not only means more competition for U.S. farmers who want to export grain but -- due to excess production of the commodity -- lowers the price.

But there's another issue in the Corn Belt: the production of ethanol, the corn-based fuel that uses up to 40 percent of the nation's corn crop, may have peaked. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed reducing the 2014 requirement of ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard by 10 percent -- from 14.4 billion gallons to 13 billion gallons.

University of Illinois economist Darrel Good doesn't anticipate a huge shift in the crops.

"I do expect some cutback of corn acres and I think we'll see a tick up in soybean acres but, at this point, I look for a fairly minor adjustment," he said.


Another big crop year also raises the possibility of a soybean stockpile. Recent reports noted that Brazil just planted almost 74 million acres of soybeans while Argentina has planted beans on 50 million acres.

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