by Jacqueline Holland, Grain market analyst, Farm Futures magazine
The 2023 acreage battle is already underway, but this year a surprise player could upend corn and soybean acres. A surge in projected wheat acres and pricey inputs will likely keep a lid on corn and soybean acreage in 2023 according to 560 farmer respondents who participated in the January 2023 Farm Futures survey, conducted from November 28 to December 30, 2022.
The survey also found that most growers finalized 2023 acreage decisions before the end of 2022. About 70% of farmers reported being locked in on 2023 acres by late December 2022. Barring any major market upheaval in the coming weeks, growers have much less incentive to deviate from rotations than last year.
Farm Futures readers indicated that 2023 corn and soybean sowings will increase, but only minimally compared to past projections for this time of year due in large part to shrinking profit margins for both crops. Our survey finds that 90.5 million and 88.9 million acres of corn and soybeans, respectively will be planted this spring.
Two consecutive seasons of wheat production shortfalls in the U.S. (spring wheat in 2021, winter wheat in 2022) sent Chicago winter wheat futures trading nearly 25% higher in Fall 2022 than in the previous winter wheat planting season. The higher prices encouraged a surge in winter wheat planting last fall – a move that will likely take away acreage from corn and soybeans in 2023.
Soaring input costs for corn last fall was another market dynamic that likely bought more wheat acreage for the 2023 growing season. Wheat production typically requires less nitrogen than corn, and as anhydrous ammonia prices retailed around $1,400/ton last fall, many farmers opted for less nitrogen-intensive crops for the 2023 crop year.