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WASHINGTON DC

U.S. corn growers expect to plant 93.6 million acres to corn this year, according to the Prospective Plantings report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

This is the first increase in corn planted acreage since 2012 and, if realized, will be the third largest corn acreage since 1944.

Driven by the expectations of higher returns in 2016 compared with other crops, corn growers in 41 of the 48 contiguous states expect to either maintain or increase the number of acres they plant to corn. Growers in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and North Dakota expect to increase their corn acreage by 400,000 or more acres in 2016.

In contrast, U.S. soybean growers expect to reverse the recent trends, which saw several record-high years. In 2016, growers expect to plant 82.2 million acres to soybeans, a less than one percent decrease from 2015. In Louisiana, Minnesota, and Mississippi, growers expect to decrease their soybean acreage by 200,000 acres or more in 2016.

Despite the overall decrease in acreage, growers in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin expect to see record-high soybean acreages in their states.

The Prospective Plantings report provides the first official, survey based estimates of U.S. farmers' 2016 planting intentions. NASS's acreage estimates are based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of more than 84,000 farm operators across the United States.

Other key findings in the report are:

· All wheat planted area for 2016 is estimated at 49.6 million acres, down 9 percent from 2015.

· Winter wheat planted area, at 36.2 million acres, down 8 percent from last year.

· All cotton planted area for 2016 is expected to total of 9.56 million acres, 11 percent up from last year.

· Sorghum growers intend to plant 7.22 million acres in 2016, down 15 percent from 2015. Kansas and Texas, the leading sorghum-producing states, account for 74 percent of the expected United States acreage.

The Prospective Plantings and all NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov.

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