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Corn planting to grow on demand for ethanol

March 31, 2007|From the Associated Press

DES MOINES, IOWA — High demand from the ethanol industry and strong export sales are expected to translate this year into the biggest U.S. corn planting since 1944, according to a report released Friday.

Corn planting will be up 15% this year to 90.5 million acres, 12.1 million more acres than in 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual prospective plantings report said.

Iowa remains on top with the most corn acres to be planted at 13.9 million -- a 10.3% increase from last year.

"A lot of the producers in the Midwest are planting more corn and not as much soybean," said Greg Thessen, field crops section head for the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

He said even some Southern farmers were choosing corn over cotton and rice.

That switch means an 11% drop in soybean acres from 2006, with farmers planning to plant 67.1 million acres this year. Cotton is expected to reach 12.1 million acres, down 20% from 2006, and rice will drop 7% to 2.64 million acres.

Some grain plantings are expected to increase. Wheat is forecast to rise 5% to 60.3 million acres. Other increases include: sorghum, up 9%; canola, up 12%; and barley, up 7%.

During the first two weeks of March, the USDA asked more than 86,000 farmers across the country what they intended to plant this year.

Figures of actual acres planted for the year will be released June 29.

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