According to the USDA's planted acreage report Wednesday, the state with the largest decrease in corn acres from 2009 is Iowa. The reports showed corn acres in the Hawkeye State are down 400,000, to 13.3 million acres.
Iowa Corn Promotion Board chairman Tim Burrack of Arlington, Iowa says that, because of the wet weather, he wasn't surprised that corn acreage decreased-but he admits it was a bigger decrease than he expected.
"In southeast Iowa and southern Iowa, there are a lot of unplanted acres-period," Burrack says. "As a result, I'm sure that's why those numbers came in."
Iowa's soybean acres, meanwhile, were estimated at 10.2 million, up 600,000 from 2009. But Burrack says some of those acres are still being planted in southeast Iowa.
On his own farm in northeast Iowa, Burrack says the crops look good-but not great.
"Two weeks ago, I would have told you 'great'-but we came subject to the water just like everyone else across Iowa and now in the Midwest," says Burrack, "Just this past weekend I hand 4 1/2 inches on top of totally saturated soils-so now the wet spots and the yellowing, etc., it's pulling down the top yields."
But Burrack says, compared to other areas in Iowa, he considers himself fortunate.
Meanwhile, the Renewable Fuels Association claimed in a statement that the USDA report, "punches another hole in land use change theory."
The amount of land dedicated to crops in the United States has dropped for the second straight year in 2010, the group noted.
The report, which shows total cropland has declined 6 million acres since 2008, is further evidence that growth in ethanol production is not leading to cropland expansion, according to the RFA.
While 2010 corn acres increased 1.6% from 2009, the uptick was more than offset by reductions in acreage for other coarse grains and wheat. USDA estimates total 2010 crop acres at 318.9 million, down from 319.3 million in 2009 and 325 million in 2008.
For the sake of comparison, RFA noted that total planted acres averaged 327 million during the decade of the 1990s. A record corn crop of at least 13.3 billion bushels is expected in 2010, despite the fact that farmers planted nearly 6 million less acres of corn than in 2007 when the first 13 billion bushel crop was achieved.
"The data clearly show that crop acres in the United States continue to trend downward," said Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO. "That's because new technology and dramatically increasing yields are allowing farmers to produce more crops on less land. Today's report reinforces the fact that the nation's farmers simply don't need to expand cropland to meet global demands for food, feed, fiber, and biofuels."
RFA also noted that corn plantings were down from last year in many states with high levels of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage, which challenges the notion that grain ethanol expansion is leading to increased CRP conversion. For instance, corn acres dropped 4% in Texas, the leading CRP state in the nation. Corn acres also fell 7% in South Dakota, 4% in Nebraska, 3% in Iowa, and 1.3% in Minnesota.