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Farmers to plant 95.9 million acres of corn: Most in 75 years

March 30, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu
  • Farmers this spring will plant the most corn in 75 years, says the USDA
Farmers this spring will plant the most corn in 75 years, says the USDA (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

The nation's huge bounty of corn keeps expanding, with farmers this spring expected to plant the largest crop of the versatile food in 75 years, according to a government report.

Cornstalks will sprawl over 95.9 million acres, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s a 4% jump from last year and the largest area planted since the 97.2 million acres claimed by corn in 1937.

It's also more than 985,000 Mall of Americas, more than 27,000 Los Angeles International Airports and nearly the full acreage of California. Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska will be the main corn centers, the report said, with more than 10,000 acres each; California is expected to have 640 acres.

That should help perk up corn stockpiles, which fell 8% from March 2011 in what Garry Niemeyer, president of the National Corn Growers Assn., called a "difficult growing season." Farmers this year could end up harvesting 14.46 billion bushels, according to the group.

The crop is used for a variety of purposes, including food, animal feed, high-fructose corn syrup, fuel and more.

Meanwhile, the government said soybean plantings are expected to dip 1% to 73.9 million acres -- inventory of the crop is currently up 10% -- but 3% more wheat will be planted this year across 55.9 million acres.

There was "little in the way of sustained cold" during 2011 -- the "year without a winter," according to the USDA. Aside from a brief freeze in Florida and other minor incidents, drought was the major problem, especially in the West, where it "stunted pasture growth" in California.

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