US farm officials have underestimated domestic corn sowings
this year by more than 2m acres, the International Grains Council said, citing
the boost to plantings from "tight stocks and high prices".
The IGC, in its first forecasts for 2013-14 corn crops,
pegged US sowings of the grain at 40.0m hectares, equivalent to 98.8m acres.
That would represent a rise of 1.6m acres year on year, and the
biggest US corn area since 1936.
And it contrasts with an estimate on Thursday from the US
Department of Agriculture, that US corn seedings will fall this year, by
700,000 acres to 96.5m acres, reflecting an assumption of "a return to more
normal spring weather".
Last year, an unusually benign early planting period encouraged
farmers to maximise sowings corn, even at the expense of other crops, such as
soybeans, for which the seeding window runs a little later.
The IGC said that plantings "are expected to increase
further in response to tight stocks and high prices", although the increase
would be "capped by competition from other crops, notably spring wheat".
The council's estimate chimes with analyst scepticism that
US corn area will fall this year.
At broker Benson Quinn Commodities, Ben Bradbury said
investors had been "surprised" by the USDA's forecast.
"After record corn prices were seen this year many
anticipate planted acres pushing 98m-99m acres," Mr Bradbury said.
On a harvested basis, the IGC forecast a rise in acreage of
about 4%, given that abandonment rates last year were enhanced by drought, and
inferring an area of a little under 91m acres.
On a global basis, the rise in harvested area will be
limited to 0.6%, taking it to 172.5m hectares, the council said.
Plantings in the European Union and Ukraine will be
constrained by the reduced area available for spring sowings, with
autumn-seeded crops deemed to have pulled through the winter in better shape.
"However, both planted areas are expected to still be above
average at 9.4m ha hectares and 4.0m hectares respectively."
In China, the second-ranked corn producing state after the US,
plantings "are expected to at least match last year's 34.8m hectares, with the
potential to further increase yields by using more productive hybrids".