U.S. Corn Acres to Reach Four-Year Low in USDA Farmer Survey

U.S. farmers intend to sow the fewest acres of corn in four years, a Department of Agriculture survey showed, as March 1 inventories in the world’s biggest grower and exporter jumped 30 percent from a year earlier.

U.S. farmers nearing the start of the northern hemisphere’s growing season will plant 91.691 million acres after sowing 95.365 million a year earlier, according to a survey of more than 84,000 growers released today in Washington. Traders surveyed by Bloomberg estimated 93.014 million, on average.

In a separate report, the USDA said corn stockpiles on March 1 were 7.01 billion bushels, rebounding 30 percent from a year-earlier total of 5.4 billion bushels (137.2 million metric tons). The average estimate of 30 analysts was 7.098 billion, a Bloomberg survey showed. Usage from December through February was 3.45 billion bushels, compared with 2.63 billion a year earlier, the USDA said.

“The March 1 corn supply is a little tighter than people expected,” Dale Durchholz, the senior market analyst for AgriVisor LLC in Bloomington, Illinois, said in a telephone interview. “The report was a surprise because it indicates that feed demand was better than expected in the quarter.”

Corn futures for May delivery climbed 1.3 percent to $4.985 a bushel at 11:38 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Through March 28, prices gained 17 percent this year after domestic and overseas demand improved.

“Farmers said they intend to plant fewer corn acres than people expected,” Durchholz said. “With warm, dry weather into May, I would expect that number will be revised higher.”

Supplies stored on farms rose 45 percent to 3.861 billion bushels from 2.669 billion a year earlier, the agency said. Corn held in commercial grain bins rose 15 percent to 3.145 billion bushels from 2.731 billion on March 1, 2013.

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