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U.S. 2022 Corn & Soybean Acreage Battle and Sinking SAM Yields

Update for January 28, 2022

Corn prices in China are increasing once again and nearing historic highs. In addition, U.S. corn demand is strong, South America’s weather is still concerning, Russian and Ukraine troops are still on high alert, all while a new-crop acreage battle looms here at home. There have been several 2022 acreage estimates over the past couple months but now some of those early numbers are being revised and current corn acreage estimates range between 91 to 94 million acres. To compare U.S. farmers planted 93.4 million corn acres in 2021, 90.7 in 2020 and 89.7 million in 2019. The record was set in 2012 when 96.4 million corn acres were planted. The yearly amount of corn acres vs soybean acres varies but the overall total of land in production each year remains near 180 million acres so it all depends on how it will be divided up come spring. The million-dollar question is will high corn input costs, strong soybean exports, crush demand and impressive soybean prices persuade some producers to plant more soybeans? Even if that happens most analysts agree that this year’s total soybean acres are not likely to significantly exceed the 87.2 million acres planted in 2021. Some bears suggest soybean acres may jump to 88 or 89 million in 2022. If that were to happen it would in turn reduce corn acres to a range between 91 to 92 million which would not produce a sufficient supply of corn if export demand and ethanol usage remains intact or if any weather complications were to arise.

Right now, serious concerns surround 3 out of the 4 top global corn exporting countries. Following the U.S., the world’s top corn exporter, Brazil #2 and Argentina #3 have suffered from hot and dry conditions this growing season while Ukraine #4 faces a possible invasion from Russia. If stories that Brazil is trying to import corn from Argentina are correct while at the same time crop estimates from both nations are being lowered then it is reasonable to assume that neither will have as many bushels available to export in the global market as they had projected.

Soybean & Corn Advisor shared results from a recent survey conducted by Cooperative Technical Network (RTC) that represents 23 cooperatives in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil and in total handles over 50% of the soybeans grown within the state. The latest crop evaluation completed on January 22nd by RTC showed soybean losses within the state have doubled to 48% since the initial survey of member coops on January 4th when a 24% yield loss was estimated. These latest results have reduced yield projections from 53.8 to 27.7 bushels per acre. In addition, total soybean acreage is in question due to the hot and dry weather pattern that was present early in the season which hindered the planting and ultimately emergence of the crop. Conab is estimating the current soybean acreage for the state at 15.4 million acres but the RTC survey reports that 3.5% of those acres were not planted and an addional 6.5% of the planted acres never emerged. Another top grain producing state within Brazil has also lowered their expected soybean yield forecast. Reuters reports that Deral (the state of Parana’s forecasting department) has dropped soybean output for this season by 35% compared to 2020/21 crop season. (Parana has raised the forecast for the first season corn crop to 2.73 MMT from 2.4 MMT and estimate the 2nd season corn crop (Safrinha) to increase by 165% from last year’s production levels.)

Oilseed’s analysts Oil World said Tuesday they expect a major uptick in soybean exports out of the U.S. from June onwards. Currently total soybean production in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay is forecast to fall to 186 MMT a 7.4% decrease from a year ago and a 4-year low. These sizable reductions in soy yields across SAM will likely slow farmers selling and “U.S. farmers will benefit, as buyers in the importing countries will increasingly shift to U.S. soybeans from June or July onward, with the biggest increase on the year likely to occur in September/December 2022. But already in the next few weeks, export sales of U.S. soybeans are likely to pick up for shipment in the second half of this season as well as for next season.”

Prospects for higher prices has U.S. and SAM farmers holding back sales and are storing more bushels than last year. According to ADM, one of the largest agriculture traders, 75% of global corn and soybean exports originate from the U.S., Brazil and Argentina. Data shows that SAM farmers have sold 19% of this year’s expected crop down from the 5-year average of 29%. The graph below from ADM illustrates current sales vs last year vs the 5-year average for the U.S., Brazil and Argentina.

The build-up of troops and supplies by the Russian military along the Russia/Ukraine border continues to unnerve global markets. Ukraine is a major source of agriculture products as 70% (102.5 million acres) of the country is farm ground. Exports of their ag products account for an impressive 9.3% of the nation’s total GDP .

This year Ukraine is projected to produce 12% of the global wheat exports, 16% of the corn, 18% of the barley and 19% of the rapeseed. The growth in agriculture is impressive as export revenues have almost doubled and total $22.2 billion.

The 6 to 10 day outlooks for February 2nd through the 6th shows the invasion a cold air mass through a huge section the countries mid-section. Precipitation is expected to be below normal for the western U.S. and above normal in the east.

One weather expert that I follow is warning of a possible shot of brutally cold air invading the U.S. in February that could drop temperatures to lows not seen yet this winter season according to GFS models. The following map shows the expected temperature anomalies on February 11th. Notice the large area of pink on the map which represent the coldest readings recorded on the scale and indicate where temps are predicted to see the most significant temp variations. Temps illustrated in pink indicate where temps could deviate by at least -33 degrees or more below normal.

When you take a closer look specifically at the Upper Midwest you will see that temps in many areas are expected to deviate by as much as 43 degrees below normal! This is still several days out so hopefully the models will change.

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