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Farmers weighing 2012 acres

Jeff Caldwell 08/15/2011 @ 3:17pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Just a few years ago, USDA's late-March planting intentions report kicked off what is now commonly known as the battle for acres. Now, the acreage battle for 2012 seems to already be underway before this year's crop is even in the bin.

Last week, USDA released crop production and supply numbers that sent the grain markets shooting skyward.

And, the reports led many farmers to start looking ahead to next year's crop -- one that most say will have to be a bin-buster if the U.S. is to keep up with world grain demand. "The battle for 2012 corn acres has begun with the August 11 report," says Agriculture.com Marketing Talk member BrookfieldTwp.

It could make it tough to reach the acreage number of 95 million, which some farmers say is what we'll need to raise next year to keep up with demand.

"Where will all the corn acres come from for 2012? Only 75 million to rotate into from soybeans, may grab some from wheat and some lesser crops like dry beans in Minnesota, the Dakotas and  Michigan," BrookfieldTwp adds. "Will we see a lot of corn-on-corn for 2012 which would mean lesser yield? If demand holds, may not catch up until 2013?"

A big crop next year is especially vital with many looking forward to a letdown of bushels in this year's crop, especially for corn, when the combines roll this fall.

"American farmers will plant corn fence row to fence row and take out the fence and plant it as well if these prices hold up until next spring.  The price of inputs and the relative price of soybeans will have an effect, but only at the margins," says Marketing Talk member and veteran contributor DW11. "As of this moment, I predict 95 million planted corn acres in the US next year. If we get some late season rains that save the beans and the corn is a bust, some of the fringe areas will plant more beans next year. However, on the whole at these price levels it is going to be wall to wall corn."

The only hitch in the acreage equation for 2012, at least in some areas, is a lot of acres are needed for other crops, too. Hay and forage crops are already in short supply, so farmers will need to keep those acres up to avoid too much of a shortfall for livestock feed.

"Not too many places to gain corn from around here, maybe a little CRP," says Marketing Talk member and senior contributor Nebrfarmr. "Hay ground already getting scarce, and continuous corn doesn't work on dryland most years."

Continuous corn may be the answer. That system typically raises lower yields, but the needed bump in acres created by a combination of corn-on-corn and land in other crops this year could help the equation work out.

"I think you are right to expect a ton of corn-on-corn acres," says Marketing Talk member and frequent contributor justinbarnes710. "Even no-tillers like myself are considering a couple hundred acres of corn-on-corn for 2012...maybe even pushing that 95 million-acre figure higher."

One final wildcard is input costs. Land costs -- which continue to surge -- alone may help push the move to more continuous corn. "I think we will see alot more corn on corn acres for next year due to the fact that many cannot justify raising beans on $300 an acre or more rental land," adds Marketing Talk member and contributor farmandfire. "That leads to following the money which tends to be in the corn acres."

If that happens, look for a lot more farmers to lock in other crop inputs, like fertilizer, earlier on. That's Marketing Talk member and senior contributor Jim Meade / Iowa City's plan at this point.

"I would think that if one really believes that 2012 will mean a lot of local corn acres, they'll get their seed bought early, get their fertilzier prices locked in and be thinking of storage (and drying costs) and marketing in a little different way than they usually do," he says.

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Todd Roth Speculators 08/17/2011 @ 5:36pm I think, I think, I think

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