The official estimate for US crop sowings may be too low,
despite the threat from cold and wet Midwest weather, Michael Cordonnier said,
reopening a longstanding debate ahead of a much-watched report.
Mr Cordonnier, a respected crop scout, said that the US
Department of Agriculture's estimate for the "total acreage pie" in
the US this year "may be 1m-2m acres too small".
The comment comes despite USDA data late on Monday which
showed domestic farmers behind in sowings of major crops, from sugar beet to
oats, by more than 20m acres, an area the size of Austria, or the US state of
Plantings have been delayed by wet and cold weather,
particularly in the western Corn Belt, including in Iowa, the top corn and
soybean producing states, and in northern areas.
will warm quickly'
However, "for now, it doesn't look as bad as last
year," when the US suffered a historically late planting period, with
sowings for most crops lagging even further behind the average pace than this
"If farmers make as much progress as expected this
week, the corn could be 50% planted" by the time of next Monday's weekly
US update, compared with 29% this time, which was 13 points behind the typical
"I am not overly concerned about the delayed corn
planting in the central Corn Belt because now that the calendar has turned to
May, all the farmers in the central Corn Belt will plant their corn as quickly
as possible as soon as the conditions are dry enough to get in the
fields," Dr Cordonnier said.
"Soil temperatures will warm quickly with the higher
sun angle, in addition to the warmer southerly winds expected this week."
He acknowledged a threat to sowings in northern areas, where
some farmers are said to be accepting a hit to yield potential switching to
earlier-maturing varieties of corn, anticipating late seedings and a shorter
growing season, and others may turn to other crops entirely, or abandon fields.
"Some of the intended corn acreage in the north western
Corn Belt may not get planted, maybe 500,000 acres, but that may be compensated
for by more corn being planted elsewhere, maybe 1.0m acres," he said,
implying US corn area of 92.2m acres this year.
For soybeans, which can be later seeded than corn, and so
for which the delayed start is not so significant, seedings may come in 1.0m
acres above the USDA estimate of 81.49m acres.
The comments two days ahead of the USDA's monthly Wasde
report, which will include the first full balance sheet estimates for world
crops in 2014-15.
And it reopens a debate after the department in March
estimated overall area of major crops, from barley to edible beans, at 325.9m
That represented a rise of only 1.1m acres year on year,
despite the especially poor sowing conditions meaning that an unusually large
8.3m acres went unseeded, as measured by so-called "prevent plant"
The average prevent plant for the previous five years was
Extra acreage this year is expected to come from emergence
of 1.7m acres from the US conservation programme.
'Room for an upgrade'
"There does indeed appear to be some room for the
acreage estimates for principal crops to exceed this year's estimate of
planting intentions," University of Illinois agricultural academics said,
after analysis of the data.
However, the USDA is not expected, in the Wasde, to alter
its sowings figures.
Dr Cordonnier said the amount of sowings lost to the poor
weather, and claimed on prevent plant insurance, would not become clear until
"later in June".
At Illinois-based consultancy Agrivisor, Dale Durchholz
responded by saying that "I could see total acres 3m-4m acres larger.
"The key lies with how planting goes in May, and the amount
put in prevent plant."