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MADISON - If the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Prospective Plantings report released on March 29 comes to fruition, a couple of records would be recorded in Wisconsin in 2018.

Wisconsin could see the largest planted acreage of soybeans on record and the smallest harvested acreage of hay, if estimates in the report are realized. 

The Prospective Plantings report provides the first official survey-based estimates of U.S. farmers' 2018 planting intentions. NASS’s acreage estimates are based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of approximately 82,900 farm operators across the United States with more than 2,000 from Wisconsin.

According to those findings, Wisconsin producers intend to plant 2.20 million acres of soybeans in Wisconsin this year. This is a 50,000 acre increase from 2017.

While the acres of soybeans are predicted to rise, the report shows that farmers intend to plant 3.85 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2018, down 50,000 acres from 2017. 

When it comes to all hay for the 2018 crop year, the Prospective Plantings report shows farmers expect to harvest 1.20 million acres, which is 50,000 acres less than what was harvested in 2017. If realized, this would be Wisconsin’s smallest harvested acreage on record.

UW-Extension corn and soybean specialist Joe Lauer said what actually happens remains to be seen.

"These are just intentions," Lauer explained. "Almost immediately the corn price reacted by increasing, trying to buy back some of those acres given to soybeans. A lot of things can happen yet before the crops are actually planted." 

In an article Lauer published in April 2016, he pointed out how the Prospective Plantings report, along with the ending stocks report, dramatically influences the market. 

"The acreage intentions report can influence the crop rotation decision for a field, especially for corn," Lauer said in the article. 

In the article, Lauer points out that with a few exceptions, "acreage intentions have accurately predicted planted acres within 5 percent. There are as many years over-predicted as under-predicted."

Nationwide, soybeans are anticipated to overtake corn by 1 million acres in 2018.

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2018 is estimated at 88 million acres, down 2 percent or 2.14 million acres from last year. Compared with 2017, planted acreage is expected to be down or unchanged in 33 of the 48 estimating States.

"U.S. farmers continue to produce more bushels per acre as new technologies are brought to the marketplace," said National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Kevin Skunes in a news release. "American corn supplies remain ample as we have a large carryover crop from 2017. U.S. farmers can react nimbly to market conditions and make decisions that make the most sense for their operation."

Ohio is expected to increase corn acreage from last year, with record high acreage in Nevada and Oregon. According to the report, compared to 2017, decreases of 300,000 acres or more are expected in Kansas, Minnesota and North Dakota, the NCGA release stated.

In the Grain Stocks report, NCGA added, USDA shows corn stocks up 3-percent from this time last year, totaling 8.89 billion bushels. Five-billion bushels of total stocks were stored on-farm, up 2-percent from March 2017 and off-farm stocks were up 5-percent from a year ago. USDA reports 3.68 billion bushels of total corn used between December 2017 - February 2018.

According to the Prospective Plantings report, soybean planted area in the U.S. for 2018 is estimated at 89 million acres, down 1 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage intentions are down or unchanged in 20 of the 31 estimating States.

Related: Soybean acres to exceed corn for the first time in 35 years

Related: Breitinger commodities column: Grain acres slashed; cattle market slaughtered

All wheat planted area for 2018 is estimated at 47.3 million acres, up 3 percent from 2017. This represents the second lowest all wheat planted area on record since records began in 1919.

The 2018 winter wheat planted area, at 32.7 million acres, is up slightly from both last year and the previous estimate. Of this total, about 23.2 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 5.85 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.64 million acres are White Winter.

Area planted to other spring wheat for 2018 is estimated at 12.6 million acres, up 15 percent from 2017. Of this total, about 12.1 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. Durum planted area for 2018 is estimated at 2.00 million acres, down 13 percent from the previous year. 

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