The U.S. Department of Agriculture releases every November a 10-year baseline projection including long-term supply, use and price projections for major U.S. crops and livestock products. Those supply and demand projections come in advance of the department’s annual Agricultural Outlook Conference, during which commodity supply and use projections, projections for farm income and expectations for global commodity trade are reviewed. This article reviews planted acreage and yield expectations from the recently released USDA “Agricultural Projections to 2030” report for the 2021-2022 crop year for corn, soybeans and wheat.

Building on the “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” report from October, the USDA’s long-term agricultural projections represent the department’s consensus projections for U.S. supply and demand for major crop and livestock sectors during the next 10 years. The projections are based on economic models and judgment-based analyses. Those baseline projections do not represent official USDA forecasts, but rather reflect a long-run outlook based upon specific assumptions about macroeconomic conditions, policy, weather and international developments given current policies such as the 2018 farm bill or the “Phase 1” agreement with China. The baseline projection doesn’t include external weather or policy shocks. So in other words it assumes business as usual for U.S. commodity markets.

Acreage expectations detailed

On the back of strong export demand, reduced ending stocks and increased prices, the USDA projects soybean acreage will increase by almost 6 million acres or 7 percent from 2020, to 89 million acres planted. If realized, 2021 soybean acreage would be the third-most acreage on record behind only 2017 and 2018.

Despite increased corn prices in recent weeks and current expectations for shrinking stockpiles, the USDA projects corn acreage for 2021 will decline by 1 million acres or 1.1 percent from 2020. If realized, total corn- and soybean-planted area would be 179 million acres, the second-most acreage on record – behind only 2017 when more than 180 million acres were planted.

During 2020 all wheat-planted acreage was 44.3 million acres, the least wheat acreage on record. Headed into the 2021-2022 marketing year with a reduced wheat inventory and increased expected prices, the USDA projects wheat acreage will increase by more than 1.6 million acres or almost 4 percent – to 46 million acres. Figure 1 highlights actual and projected acreage for soybean, corn and wheat.

Yield expectations detailed

Corn yields for the 2021-2022 marketing year are currently projected at a record 180.5 bushels per acre. That’s 2.1 bushels per acre or 1.2 percent more than the current marketing year. Soybean yields are projected to decline by 1.3 bushels per acre or 2.5 percent, to 50.6 bushels per acre. If realized, 2021-2022 soybean yields would be a tie for the second-most on record. Wheat yields are projected to decline by 0.6 bushels per acre or 1.2 percent less than prior-year levels. Figure 2 highlights actual and projected corn, soybean and wheat yields.

Summary

The USDA recently released a 10-year baseline projection including long-term supply, use and price projections for major U.S. crops and livestock products. Recent improvements in corn, soybean and wheat demand and prices are contributing to expectations that total acreage planted to those three crops will increase by almost 7 million acres or 3 percent. Corn acres planted are projected at 90 million, soybean acres are expected at 89 million and all-wheat acres are expected at 46 million. Record yields are expected for corn, while reduced crop yields are expected for both soybeans and wheat in 2021.

John Newton is the chief economist with American Farm Bureau Federation Market Intel; visit www.fb.org/market-intel for more information.