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USDA Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade


28 March 2013

USDA Prospective Plantings - March 2013USDA Prospective Plantings - March 2013


Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade

Corn growers intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2013, up slightly from last year and 6 percent higher than in 2011. If realized, this will represent the highest planted acreage in the United States since 1936 when an estimated 102 million acres were planted.

Soybean planted area for 2013 is estimated at 77.1 million acres, down slightly from last year but the fourth highest on record, if realized. Compared with 2012, planted area is down across the Great Plains with the exception of North Dakota. Nebraska and Minnesota are expecting the largest declines compared with last year, while Illinois and North Dakota are expecting the largest increases.

All wheat planted area for 2013 is estimated at 56.4 million acres, up 1 percent from 2012. The 2013 winter wheat planted area, at 42.0 million acres, is 2 percent above last year and up slightly from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 28.9 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 9.67 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.39 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2013 is expected to total 12.7 million acres, up 3 percent from 2012. Of this total, about 12.1 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. The intended Durum planted area for 2013 is estimated at 1.75 million acres, down 18 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2013 is expected to total 10.0 million acres, 19 percent below last year. Upland area is expected to total 9.82 million acres, down 19 percent from 2012. American Pima area is expected to total 206,000 acres, down 14 percent from 2012.

Winter Weather Summary

Highlights: Generally mild weather from the Plains to the Atlantic Seaboard contrasted with colder-than-normal weather
in the West. Relative to normal, February was the coldest month of the winter of 2012-13 for locations east of the Rocky
Mountains. Frigid conditions in December and January eased somewhat across the Intermountain West toward the end of winter.

Winter precipitation eradicated drought across much of the lower Southeast. Even as heavy rain triggered lowland
flooding across the Deep South, including Florida’s panhandle, showers largely bypassed Florida’s citrus belt. As a result, producers across Florida’s peninsula had to rely on irrigation as warm weather pushed citrus into an early bloom during
February. Farther west, above-normal winter precipitation provided some limited relief to drought-stressed rangeland,
pastures, and winter wheat on the Plains. Beneficial winter precipitation also fell across the upper Midwest; however,
subsoil moisture shortages persisted across the Nation’s midsection as producers prepared for spring planting. In contrast, drought was mostly eliminated before or during winter in the eastern Corn Belt.

Elsewhere, the Western wet season got off to a good start, especially in December; however, unfavorably dry conditions developed as 2013 began and persisted through January and February. As a result, water-supply prospects – especially from California to the central and southern Rockies – dimmed by the end of winter.

Historical Perspective: The winter of 2012-13 was overall warm and wet. The Nation’s average temperature of 34.3 degrees Fahrenheit was 1.9 degrees above the long-term mean, while the average precipitation of 7.10 inches was 110 percent of normal. These numbers represented the 19th-warmest, 25th-wettest December to February during the 118-year period of record.

Winter warmth was most prevalent east of the Rockies, while chilly conditions were the rule from California to the southern Rockies. State temperature rankings ranged from the 20th-coldest February in Utah to the fifth-warmest February in Delaware. Meanwhile, most of the eastern half of the United States experienced a wet winter, while pockets of dryness dotted the West. State rankings varied from the 21st-driest December to February period in California to the fourth-wettest winter in Alabama, Louisiana, and Michigan. Top-ten values for winter wetness were also noted in Georgia, Mississippi, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

December: Despite occasional December precipitation across the Nation’s midsection, hard red winter wheat conditions remained mostly steady or declined due to poor crop establishment and acute soil moisture shortages. In addition, drought intensified across southern portions of the Plains, especially from southern Texas into eastern Kansas. By December 30, the portion of the Plains’ wheat rated in very poor to poor condition included 61 percent in Oklahoma, 49 percent in Nebraska, and 31 percent in Kansas. However, enough snow fell across the northern and central Plains to provide some degree of insulation from temperatures that locally and periodically fell to -10 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. In contrast, significant precipitation fell in much of the soft red winter wheat belt, particularly across the Ohio Valley. As a result, most of the wheat continued to thrive across the Mid-South and lower Midwest.

By month’s end, 70 percent ofthe Illinois wheat crop was rated good to excellent. In both the Ohio Valley and the upper Midwest, enough ofDecember’s precipitation fell in the frozen form to establish a substantial snow cover. Meanwhile, widespread precipitation also fell in much of the East, although rain was spotty across Florida. Some of the heaviest precipitation, relative to normal, fell across the Northeast and from the central Gulf Coast into the southern Appalachians.

Elsewhere, much of the West experienced unsettled weather during December. Precipitation was especially heavy from northern California into the Intermountain West. For example, the average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snow pack increased by 10 inches during the month, reaching 14 inches (approximately 140 percent of normal) by the end of December.

The Nation’s winter agricultural regions escaped significant freezes during December, although there were several chilly mornings - particularly from December 19-21 - in California and the Desert Southwest. Florida’s coldest morning, for the most part, occurred on December 23. Overall, December temperatures were highly variable in the West but mostly above normal across the eastern half of the Nation. Western temperatures were influenced by snow cover, mainly in parts of the Intermountain region.

January: Despite sporadic January precipitation on the Plains, drought remained entrenched across the Nation’s midsection. By month’s end, at least half of the winter wheat was rated very poor to poor in Oklahoma (69 percent), South Dakota (66 percent), and Nebraska (50 percent). In Kansas, 39 percent of the winter wheat and 85 percent of the rangeland and pastures were rated very poor to poor on January 27.

Precipitation was a little heavier on the northern Plains, where snow provided wheat with some protection from weather extremes. The southern Plains also received moisture from time to time, helping to offset the effects of mostly above-normal temperatures. In fact, above-normal monthly temperatures prevailed in nearly all areas from the Plains to the East Coast, despite a late-month cold outbreak that resulted in the coldest weather in 2 years in parts of the Midwest and Northeast. January readings averaged more than
5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal in much of the Southeast. In contrast, frigid weather blanketed the Intermountain region, while near- to below-normal temperatures covered the remainder of the West. Chilly weather that struck winter agricultural regions in California and Arizona at mid-month represented the area’s most severe cold wave since a similarly timed event in mid-January 2007.

Meanwhile, abundant January precipitation fell from the Mississippi Valley to the Appalachians, as well as in the MidAtlantic States. Lowland flooding affected several areas, primarily from the central Gulf Coast northeastward into the Ohio Valley. In contrast, very little moisture spilled across the mountains into New England or the southern Atlantic States. In the latter region, the combination of warm, dry conditions led to heavy irrigation demands in Florida’s winter agricultural belt.

Elsewhere, disappointingly dry weather accompanied generally cool conditions in the West. For example, the average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snow pack stood at 16 inches (about 90 percent of average) at month’s end, compared to 14 inches (140 percent) on January 1. However, late-month storms provided some drought relief in the Southwest.

February: For many areas east of the Rockies, particularly across the Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic States, February was the coldest month during the winter of 2012-13. Conversely, warmth continued across the Deep South, from southern Texas to Florida’s peninsula, where some early planting activities and blooming were noted by the end of February.

February precipitation highlights included heavy rain in the lower Southeast and several late-winter storms across the Plains and Midwest. Southeastern storms led to some record-high February precipitation totals and lowland flooding; however, rainfall largely bypassed Florida’s peninsula, where producers continued to irrigate citrus and other crops.

Across the Plains and Midwest, the highest-impact storms struck during the second half of the month, from February 20-22 and 25-27. Both late-month storms produced heavy, wind-driven snow in various parts of the central and southern Plains and Midwest, stressing livestock and disrupting travel, but providing beneficial topsoil moisture and insulation for drought-stressed rangeland, pastures, and winter wheat. Still, by late February, roughly one-third to two-thirds of the hard red winter wheat was rated very poor to poor - a list headed by South Dakota (66 percent very poor to poor), Oklahoma (54 percent), Nebraska (50 percent), Texas (45 percent), and Kansas (36 percent).

Elsewhere, drier-than-normal weather dominated during February across southern Texas and nearly all areas west of the Rockies. In fact, disappointing amounts of precipitation fell across much of the West in January-February 2013, diminishing the prospects for spring and summer runoff and increasing water-supply concerns from California to the central and southern Rockies. By winter’s end, the water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snow pack stood at 16 inches, about two-thirds of normal for the end of February.

Crop Comments

Corn: Growers intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2013, up slightly from last year and 6 percenthigher than in 2011. Expected returns for corn are again historically high going into 2013. If realized, this will represent the highest planted acreage in the United States since 1936 when an estimated 102 million acres were planted. Record high corn acreage is expected in Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, and Oregon. Conversely, most States in the Corn Belt, which experienced severe drought in 2012, expect slightly less planted acreage.

Sorghum: Growers intend to plant 7.62 million acres of sorghum for all purposes in 2013, up 22 percent from last year.Kansas and Texas are the leading sorghum States and account for 77 percent of the expected United States acreage. As of March 24, Texas growers had planted 33 percent of their crop, 3 percentage points ahead of last year but the same as the 5-year average.

Winter wheat: The 2013 winter wheat planted area is estimated at 42.0 million acres, up slightly from the Winter WheatSeedings report. Acreage increases from the previous report were mainly in the Soft Red Winter growing States. Of the total acreage, about 28.9 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 9.67 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.39 million acres are White Winter. Winter wheat conditions improved over the winter in much of the Hard Red Winter growing area. Increases from last year are estimated in most Soft Red Winter growing States with North Carolina producers planting a record high acreage.

Durum wheat: Area seeded to Durum wheat for 2013 is expected to total 1.75 million acres, down 18 percent from 2012.Planted acreage is expected to be down in all States except South Dakota. If realized, planted acres will be a record low in
Idaho.

Other spring wheat: Growers intend to plant 12.7 million acres in 2013, up 3 percent from 2012. Of the total, about12.1 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. The largest expected acreage increase from the previous year is in North Dakota.

Rice: Area planted to rice in 2013 is expected to total 2.61 million acres, down 3 percent from 2012. Higher prices forcompeting commodities contributed to the expected decline in rice acres compared with last year. While short grain acres are expected to remain unchanged, long and medium grain acres are expected to be down 3 and 4 percent, respectively.

Area planted to rice in Arkansas, the largest rice-producing State, is 5 percent below the previous year. In Mississippi, growers intend to plant 8 percent fewer acres to rice than in 2012. In Texas where drought conditions persist, a record low acreage is expected to be planted.

Soybeans: Growers intend to plant an estimated 77.1 million acres in 2013, down slightly from last year but up 3 percent from 2011. Compared with last year, planted acreage intentions are down across all of the Great Plains, with the exception of North Dakota, as drought conditions have persisted in many of these areas. However, the net intended change from last year for the United States is only a loss of 72,000 acres as expected increases in planted area across most of the eastern Corn Belt and parts of the Southeast nearly balance out the declines in the Great Plains. If realized, the planted area in New York, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania will be the largest on record.

Peanuts: Growers intend to plant 1.19 million acres in 2013, down 27 percent from the previous year. The expected decrease in planted area is largely driven by lower peanut prices and high supply. Last year growers increased peanut acres in many States due to higher prices. In Georgia, the largest peanut-producing State, expected planted area is down 35 percent from 2012.

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