The following analysis is provided by Dr. Todd Hubbs of the University of Illinois via their FarmDoc website:
"The 2019 crop year will live long in the memory. A record amount of prevent plant acres, delayed harvest, and considerable dismay over USDA reports compounded the uncertainty associated with the trade war. Speculation about the acreage levels in 2020 is already underway. Current market conditions support acreage increases in corn and soybeans in 2020. It appears only the magnitude of those increases is in doubt.
"A variety of surveys and projections by industry analysts place 2020 corn acreage close to 94 million acres. Soybean acreage projections come in around 84 million acres. Prospects for 2020 crop acreage levels begin with expectations about planted acreage for principal crops. In 2019, acreage planted in principal field crops fell to 309.3 million acres, down 10.3 million acres from the previous year. A record level of prevent plant acreage led to this dramatic drop. At 19.6 million acres of prevent plant acres, this crop year eclipsed the previous record acreage total of 2011 by almost 10 million acres. Corn prevent plant came in at 11.4 million acres while soybean prevent plant sits at 4.5 million acres. Among major field crops, acreage increases for corn, barley, and oats materialized in 2019 despite the tough planting conditions. Other field crops acreage fell from the previous year. Soybean acreage dropped by 12.5 million acres in 2019 under the complex prevent plant decisions that occurred in the spring months.
"Any analysis of principal crop acreage requires considering 2019 as an anomaly. The possibility of seeing massive prevent plant acreage in successive years seems remote. In the four years leading into 2019, principal crop acreage averaged 318.9 million acres. An expectation of principal crop acreage near this level seems reasonable for 2020. As we move into 2020, the prospect of significant adjustments in crop acreage increasingly focuses on soybean acreage, while acreage changes among other crops may be in the form of acreage adjustments instead of acreage losses. The environment across most field crops point to total planted acreage of principal crops near 319 million acres in 2020.
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