“Attractive profit margins” should encourage corn growers to increase plantings this spring, according to a survey of more than 1,550 farmers by Farm Futures magazine.  Corn acreage in 2013 could reach 97.75 million acres, a little less than 1 percent above the acreage in 2012.

“While the planting intentions we found were not as big as some predict, it was a substantial increase from our first survey in August, which projected 93 million acres,” Farm Futures market analyst Paul Burgener reported. “The reality of another year with outstanding returns for corn convinced many growers to try more corn-on-corn, despite their long-term desire to return to more balanced rotations with soybeans.”  After three “disappointing” corn crops in a row, good yields and large acreage in 2013 will be essential to rebuilding inventories, the report said.

The latest Farm Futures survey also found farmers plan to plant 76.84 million acres of soybeans, slightly less than the 77.2 million acres USDA last estimated for 2012. By comparison, survey respondents reported they planted 76.1 million acres in 2012.  “In August, our survey found farmers ready to splurge on soybeans, increasing 2013 plantings to 78 million acres,” said Senior Editor Bryce Knorr. “But soybeans were trading well over $16 a bushel at the time. With new crop prices substantially lower, farmers are again focusing on total returns, giving corn the edge.”

USDA will issue its first survey-based forecast of 2013 spring crop planting intentions at the end of March, with preliminary estimates issued in February at the department’s annual outlook forum.