The USDA forecasts more corn and soybean acres nationwide, but expects a stable wheat crop in the Pacific Northwest.
If growers’ intentions are realized, the agency said in its prospective plantings report, Idaho and Oregon farmers will plant the most corn on record.
“Certainly stronger corn prices have helped provide support to wheat prices as has good demand,” said Glen Squires, CEO of the Washington Grain Commission.
Idaho farmers are projected to plant 400,000 acres of corn, up 2.6% from 390,000 acres in 2020. Oregon farmers are projected to plant 120,000 acres, up 20% from 100,000 acres in 2020.
Washington corn acres are likely to decline 8.3%, from 180,000 in 2020 to 165,000 this year.
The largest increases are expected in the Dakotas, where producers intend to plant a combined 8.9 million acres, an increase of 2 million acres from 2020. Producers across most of the Corn Belt intend to plant fewer acres than last year, according to USDA.
Soybean growers intend to plant 87.6 million acres in 2021, up 5% from last year. If realized, this will be the third highest planted acreage on record, according to the agency.
Squires expects numbers will change due to demand.
“There has been some good demand, particularly with China,” he said. “We hope that it continues.”
In the Northwest, wheat acres are expected to remain relatively stable.
Washington farmers are expected to plant 2.33 million acres, down 0.4% from 2.34 million acres in 2020.
Idaho growers are projected to plant 1.27 million acres, up 2.4% from 1.24 million.
Oregon wheat farmers are expected to plant 720,000 acres, down 2.7% from 740,000 acres in 2020.
“Not much change for PNW as is often the case,” Squires said. “Exact same planted wheat acres from last year. Just some reduction in winter wheat offset by increase in spring wheat.”
“With such a large amount in dryland production, it provides a good deal of continuity,” Oregon Wheat CEO Amanda Hoey said.
Harvest outlook will be dependent, in part, on needed moisture, she said.
“We did not have any major reports on winter kill as it was fairly mild and while the wheat looked small coming out of winter, we did get snowfall in much of the state thereafter and now just require those essential spring rains for finishing,” she said.