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Webinar Delves into USDA Plantings, Grain Reports

01 March 2012

US - Purdue University agricultural economists will break down the numbers from a pair of highly anticipated US Department of Agriculture reports during a free webinar on March 30.

Corinne Alexander and Chris Hurt will discuss what the USDA Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks reports say, how the projections could affect grain prices and which marketing strategies farmers can employ to get the most profit from their crops.

The webinar takes place from noon to 1:30 p.m. EST (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CST). Farmers can view the webinar on any computer with Internet access or at 12 county sites hosted or co-hosted by Purdue Extension.

The webinar comes just hours after USDA issues the reports. Prospective Plantings estimates the types and acres of crops US farmers intend to plant this spring, based on a USDA survey of growers. The Grain Stocks report details how many bushels of the 2011 crop remain.

If the USDA numbers hold true to commodities market trends, corn will dominate farmers' planting decisions, Ms Alexander said.

"While our inventories for soybeans and wheat at this time are a little comfortable, corn inventories from the most recent USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report showed ending stocks for this marketing year to be 801 million bushels," Ms Alexander said. "Those are record tight stocks, given our corn usage is above 12 billion bushels a year."

Already, grain markets are sending signals that more corn will need to be planted in 2012 to meet global demand.

"Right now the grain trade is expecting US farmers in the coming year will plant an additional 2 million acres of corn, for roughly a total of 94 million acres," Ms Alexander said.

"Since 2007 what we've seen with the Prospective Plantings report is the market will go into a period where it will 'buy' acres. That is, it will drive up the price of corn or soybeans relative to the other, in order to convince farmers to plant more of one or the other. Then, by the June 30 USDA report of what farmers do plant, there could be a swing of as much as 5 million acres from the March report."

Fertilizer and production costs also will factor into farmers' acreage decisions, Ms Alexander said.

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