Conflicting reports of U.S. planted corn and soybean acreage, even as the current harvest is underway, have left room for the fluctuation of the final number, according to University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Darrel Good.
"For corn, acreage that had been reported to FSA (the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency) as planted totaled 91.428 million, 2.657 million more than reported the previous month," said Good. "Based on survey data, the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has estimated planted acreage at 97.379 million acres. Acreage reported to FSA is expected to be less than the NASS estimate because not all producers are enrolled in programs that require reporting of planted acreage to the FSA.
"Planted acreage reported to FSA as of the September report accounted for 93.9 percent of the total estimated by NASS and the difference was 5.951 million acres," said Good. "Over the previous six years, the final total corn acreage reported to FSA averaged 96.9 percent of the final NASS estimate, in a range of 96.4 to 97.5 percent. The difference between the FSA and NASS acreage estimates averaged 2.785 million acres, in a range of 2.381 in 2007 to 3.295 million in 2011.
The difference between the corn acreage reported to FSA and acreage estimated by NASS in 2013 may be smaller when final estimates are available, according to Good. "If the final difference is equal to the largest difference of the past six years (2011), the gap will narrow by 2.5 to 2.6 million acres," he said. "Planted acreage of corn reported to FSA increased from September to the final estimate by only 228,000 acres in 2011 and 213,000 in 2012. The increase may be larger this year due to the lateness of planting and the extension of the FSA deadline for reporting planted acreage. It would be a surprise if the increase totaled 2.5 to 2.6 million acres, leading to the expectation that the NASS estimate of planted acreage may be reduced in future Crop Production reports."
Good said that for soybeans, acreage that had been reported to FSA as planted totaled 74.659 million, 2.598 million more than reported in August. Based on survey data, NASS has estimated planted acreage at 77.178 million acres. Planted acreage reported to FSA as of the September report accounted for 96.7 percent of the total estimated by NASS and the difference was 2.519 million acres.
Over the previous six years, the final total soybean acreage reported to FSA averaged 98.2 percent of the final NASS estimate of planted acreage, in a range of 97.1 to 98.8 percent. The difference between the FSA and NASS acreage estimates averaged 1.304 million acres, in a range of 0.917 million in 2008 to 1.884 million in 2007. "History suggests that the current gap between FSA and NASS acreage numbers will narrow by about one million acres," said Good.
Planted acreage of soybeans reported to FSA increased from September to the final estimate by only 190,000 acres in 2011 and 161,000 in 2012, suggesting that the NASS estimate in 2013 could be reduced by as much as 800,000 acres, according to Good. "That is not a large decline and is well within the experience of the past 10 years," he said. "With an average yield of 41.2 bushels, an 800,000-acre reduction in the estimate of harvested acreage would reduce the soybean production estimate by 33 million bushels and result in year-ending stocks of about 120 million bushels, based on current consumption forecasts."