USDA Shocks Markets

On Friday morning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its “Planted Acreage” report that shocked markets by showing far more corn acres and fewer soybean acres than anticipated.

After a terribly wet spring and widespread reports of farmers unable to plant corn, analysts were expecting the USDA to show 86.7 million acres of corn planted this year, but Friday’s report projected planted acreage at a whopping 91.7 million acres this year.

Meanwhile, soybean acreage was expected at 84.4 million acres as farmers, unable to plant corn, switched to less profitable, but later planted, soybeans. Instead, the USDA projected a massive cut in bean acreage to a mere 80.0 million acres, the lowest level since 2013.

Markets reacted severely to the data, with corn futures falling the exchange-maximum 25 cents per bushel at one point, while soybeans rose as much as 17 cents per bushel.

However, the USDA data is based upon surveys of farmers taken during the first two weeks of June, which means that it is based on potentially flawed data if farmers were still optimistic about their ability to plant in early June, an uncertainty that was weighing on market watchers on Friday.