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Midwest farmers intend to plant more corn, wheat

Farmers across the Midwest are planning to plant more corn and wheat in 2023, according to Ag Access. In a survey with almost 400 respondents, farmers said they would dedicate 27% more acres to corn and 32% more to wheat with a smaller percentage increasing their soybean acres (17%).

This is in line with what USDA projected at its annual Agricultural Outlook Forum with corn plantings at 91.0 million acres, up from 88.6 million in 2022; wheat plantings at 49.5 million acres, up from 45.7 million in 2022; and soybeans at 87.5 million acres, unchanged from last year.

Seth Meyers, USDA chief economist, believes the increase in wheat acres is in response to the continued high global prices and tight supplies, partially due to the war in Ukraine.

He also sees acres of corn and soybeans expanding a bit over last year. “The initial expectations for 2023 planted area indicate growth in total planted area of corn, wheat, and soybeans relative to the previous year. Combined acreage for the three crops is projected at 228 million acres—a nearly 3% increase from 2022 when acres were constrained by unfavorable planting weather in the spring,” says Meyer.

Top of Mind Concerns

The Ag Access survey also asked farmers about their top concerns for 2023 and what new technology they are implementing.

Farmers could identify their top three concerns. Here are the responses:

  1. 93% high input costs
  2. 69% market volatility
  3. 60% operation costs
  4. 27% input availability and shortages
  5. 24% equipment parts and machine availability
  6. 16% worker or labor shortage

New technology and practices

Ag Access’ survey revealed farmers are looking to ag tech for tools that help them meet the specific needs of their farms while boosting yields, lowering costs, providing time savings, and preserving resources and the environment. Row guidance, new seed treatments, fertilizer and planting upgrades, followed by automation and biologicals were the most popular new tech or advanced practices that the survey respondents plan to use this year. 

One farmer responded that he is excited to use sophisticated technologies including robots, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images, and GPS technology. “These advanced devices, precision agriculture, and robotic systems, allow businesses to be more profitable, efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly.” He is also planning to use cloud data management to aggregate information from soil sensors, satellite images, and weather stations to help him make accurate, timely crop management decisions.

Several farmers stated they upgraded their used tractors, added more precision ag monitors, and are utilizing new varieties and variable rate applicators to lower input costs, accomplish fieldwork with fewer passes, and increase yields. 

“I am utilizing technology to ensure maximum impact of my investments per acre,” one farmer said. A farmer using variable rate seeding and fertilizing said, “I think it’s important to have the right amount of seeds in the ground with adequate nutrition so the available moisture can produce the greatest possible yield.” 

Another farmer commented that the cost of nitrogen is high, crop prices are good, and the cost of technology is getting lower. He is “using technology to improve nitrogen use efficiency and evaluate in-season nitrogen sufficiency to increase crop yield.” He will also be crop scouting with drones this year.  

Several farmers acknowledged the use of biologicals. “We are seeing some exciting results with biological trials improving soil fertility through targeted application and plan to continue.” Another farmer said, “We are using biologicals to help make nutrients more available to the plant, which should translate to more yield with the same or less fertilizer.” 

About the survey

Ag Access is a research logistics company that conducts analysis on farmer trends. This survey was sent to farmers in early 2023 to gauge intentions for 2023 planting and trends around technology use. There were 390 total respondents from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota. Due to the nature of the study, farmer responses are anonymized. 

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