USDA Projects Decreased 2024 Planted Acreage For Corn, Soybeans, Wheat Compared to 2023

This article is taken from the USDA's 100th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum...Cultivating the Future...held Feb. 15-16 in Arlington VA. Click here to view the complete paper.

Planted Acreage Outlook for 2024

Initial expectations for 2024 planted area are for a decline in total planted area of corn, wheat, and soybeans relative to the previous year.

Combined acreage for the three crops is projected at 225.5 million acres—a decline of about 1% reflecting expectations of lower prices and a reversion to a more typical level of prevent plant acres.

Season average farm prices received by producers for corn, soybeans, and wheat are forecast lower than 2023 and below the average of the past 3 years.

Production costs in Illinois are a reasonable proxy for developments throughout the Corn Belt.

According to AMS’ Illinois Production Cost report, costs for producers are lower relative to this time a year ago and are generally at or below the average seen during late January and early February over the last 3 years.

Prices for fertilizer such as anhydrous ammonia are down nearly 40% relative to 2023, while diesel is about 20% lower.

However, interest costs have increased modestly with the 3-month Treasury Bill yielding over 5% for a good portion of 2023 and into 2024.

December corn futures, which during the month of February to date are about 20% lower than a year ago, have declined less than nitrogen fertilizer while soybean futures are down about 15%.

Cash prices are also showing declines of equivalent magnitude.

Since the start of February, prices for fall delivery of corn in Illinois have averaged about $4.30 per bushel, down about 25% relative to all of February a year ago, while soybean prices have averaged about $11.20 per bushel, a decline of just under 20%.

Among the three main crops, wheat area is projected decline the most, with relatively favorable prices for competing crops such as cotton and sorghum.

Soybean area is expected to increase as demand for soybeans in the United States is expected to be driven by stronger demand for domestic crush—largely driven by growth in biofuel use- while exports likely face competition from supplies in South America during the 2024/25 U.S. marketing year.

Corn planted area is projected to decline about 4% relative to last year.