March 2019 Prospective Planting Estimates

On March 29th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its 2019 Projected Plantings Report. The report provides estimates for crop acreage to be planted during the 2019 crop year. For Arkansas, the report estimates significant increases in corn and cotton acres and modest reductions in soybean and rice acres.

Details from Arkansas’s Report:

Corn Acreage Up 26
Percent Cotton Acreage Up 20
Percent Rice Acreage Down 3 Percent
Soybean Acreage Down 5 Percent

Arkansas producers plan to plant 830,000 acres of corn, up 26 percent from last year when 660,000 acres of corn were planted. This would be the highest corn acreage in Arkansas since 2013, when there was 880,000.

Nationwide, producers intend to plant 92.792 million acres of corn this year, up 4 percent from last year’s 89.129 million acres and almost 1.5 million acres more than the pre-report private estimates.

“The futures market reaction has been very negative to the report with new crop prices finishing the day down 14 to 16 cents following the report,” Stiles said.

Although U.S. cotton acreage is expected to be 2 percent lower than a year ago with 13.78 million acres of cotton expected to be planted, Arkansas producers plan to up their acreage 20 percent to 580,000 acres. Last year, growers counted 485,000 acres planted a year ago. This would mark the fourth consecutive year of increasing cotton acreage in Arkansas and the highest acreage since 2012, when there were 595,000 acres planted. 

 “The NASS Arkansas cotton acreage projection falls in line with the National Cotton Council’s results released in early February which indicated 555,000 acres would be planted this year,” Stiles said. “In contrast, the Cotton Council expected U.S. cotton acreage to increase this year to 14.45 million—up from 14.1 million last year.”

Arkansas producers plan to plant 3.1 million acres of soybeans, down 5 percent from last year when 3.28 million acres were planted.

U.S. producers are expected to plant 84.617 million acres of soybeans, down 5 percent from a year ago when 89.196 million acres of soybeans were planted nationally.

“This came in just over 1.5 million acres lower than the average pre-report trade estimate,” Stiles said.

Arkansas producers are expected to reduce rice area by 40,000 acres or 3 percent to 1.401 million. 

“All of this reduction is attributed to a 50,000 acre decline in long-grain rice,” Stiles said. “Medium-grain acres in Arkansas are expected to increase a third straight year by 10,000 to a total of 200,000 acres.”

U.S. rice acreage is expected to be 3 percent lower this year with 2.87 million acres planted compared to 2.946 million last year.

Arkansas producers are expected to plant 25,000 peanut acres, slightly less than the 26,000 planted last year. 

“It’s not a surprise to see more corn and cotton, given current soybean prices. We knew bean acres would be off some,” he said. “In the end, rice acres may not change much at all from last year. The weather over the next month or two, and to some degree crop prices, can still affect planting.”

Stiles explained that soybeans were generally the alternative on rice acres for Arkansas growers and the acres would likely stay in rice if the soybeans “didn’t pencil out.”

“By comparison, November soybean futures during the first two weeks of March are a full $1 dollar per bushel less than a year ago and basis is much weaker as well,” he said.