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USDA projects 5 percent increase in corn acreage, slight decline in soybean acres

WILLMAR -- According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Prospective Plantings Report, our nation's farmers intend to plant 92.2 million acres of corn this spring, up 5 percent from 2010 and 7 percent higher than in 2009. This would be the second highest planted acreage of corn since 1944, exceeded only by the 93.5 million acres planted in 2007.

Corn acreage increases of 250,000 acres or more are expected in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and South Dakota. The largest decrease is expected in Texas, down 150,000 acres.

The report also indicates that U.S. farmers will plant 76.6 million acres of soybeans in 2011, down 1 percent from 2010. This would be the third highest planted acreage of soybeans in U.S. history.

Compared with last year, planted soybean acreage declines of 100,000 acres or more are expected in Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska and Ohio.

Total intended acreage of wheat is estimated at 58 million acres, up 8 percent from last year. Winter wheat planted acreage in 2011, forecast at 42.1 million acres, is 10 percent above last year. Spring wheat planted acreage is expected to total 14.4 million acres this year, up 5 percent from 2010.

Minnesota corn acreage up 3 percent, soybean acres unchanged

The Prospective Plantings Report indicates that Minnesota farmers intend to plant 7.9 million acres of corn this spring, up 3 percent from 2010. This would be Minnesota's second largest planted acreage, exceeded only by the 8.4 million acres planted in 2007.

Intended soybean acreage was estimated at 7.4 million acres, unchanged from 2010.

Minnesota spring wheat acreage is expected to total 1.65 million acres, up 3 percent from last year.

Oats planting intentions, at 225,000 acres, would be down 13 percent from one year ago.

Minnesota farmers intend to plant 445,000 acres of sugar beets in 2011, down 1 percent from 2010.

The Prospective Plantings Report provides the first official survey-based estimates of U.S. farmers' planting intentions for 2011. To create the report, USDA surveyed over 85,000 farmers across the nation during the first two weeks of March.

CRP sign-up

period ends April 15

Producers and landowners who wish to submit offers to enroll new land into the Conservation Reserve Program will need to do so by the sign-up deadline of April 15. Offers are being accepted at local Farm Service Agency offices.

In addition to offering new land for enrollment, participants with existing contracts that expire on Sept. 30 may also submit offers for possible re-enrollment.

During this sign-up period, larger parcels of land will be considered for enrollment. However, bid offers will need to be submitted since acceptance is on a competitive basis and is not automatic.

A bid offer consists of a per-acre rental rate that the producer or landowner is willing to accept as an annual payment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

All offers accepted by USDA during this sign-up period will have an effective date of Oct. 1.

By entering into a 10- or 15-year contract with USDA, participants receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance of up to 50 percent of the cost to establish the long-term conservation practices agreed to during the sign-up period.

The 2008 farm bill authorizes up to 32 million acres for enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program. Currently there are approximately 31 million acres enrolled, making it the nation's largest voluntary conservation program on privately owned land.

Nationally, there are approximately 5 million contract acres that are scheduled to expire this fall.

April interest

rates steady

to down slightly

The interest rate on commodity loans disbursed during the month of April will be 1.25 percent, unchanged from the March rate.

The interest rates on farm storage facility loans approved during the month of April will be 2.75 percent for a 7-year loan term; 3.375 percent for a 10-year loan term; and 3.625 percent for a 12-year loan term. The rates are down slightly from March.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.