Apr 10, 2012  |  Today's News

Illinois’ corn farmers intend to plant 12.5 million acres of corn this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on March 30. It takes about $270 per acre to get the corn crop planted and off to a good start, meaning Illinois corn farmers plan to invest some $3.4 billion this spring.

“Farmers make this multi-billion dollar investment every spring in the hope of producing more corn per acre, as they strive to get better every year,” said Phil Thornton, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board’s Value Enhanced Project Director. “USDA’s planting intention numbers today, if realized; show how farmers respond to market signals with the investment necessary to meet demand.”

Good prices are the market signal for more corn acres, yet planting numbers can change depending on springtime weather. Last year’s March estimate, for example, was higher than previous years’ planted acres and increased further, when USDA realized weather allowed greater opportunity for additional corn acres.  Last year’s 9.85 million planted acres was the largest since the 1930’s – and farmers intend to top that by 450,000 this year.

Nationally, USDA said farmers intend to plant 95.9 million acres this year, up 4 percent from last year’s 91.9 million acres. If realized it will be the most planted acres in the United States since 1937 when an estimated 97.2 million acres were planted.

“Unseasonably warm weather so far this spring, has allowed farmers in most Midwestern states to complete field work and fertilizer application, and for some begin planting already, but most farmers in Illinois will hold off until mid-April because crop insurance coverage doesn’t take effect until then and there’s still the risk of frost,” Thornton said.

Historically in Illinois, farmers begin planting in mid-April and wrap up as quickly as possible in May.

On average, farmers spend about $270 per acre to get the crop in the ground and off to a good start, based on estimates calculated by the University of Illinois Extension. Multiplied by the 12.5 million acres USDA estimates Illinois farmers will plant this year; provides the $3.4 billion investment by the state’s corn farmers. That figure does not include land costs, labor or equipment – it’s purely inputs like seed and fertilizer.

“Those are the things farmers buy every year from their cooperative or other companies,” Thornton said. “If you figure a 2.5 multiplier, the full economic impact of planting reaches some $8.5 billion. Yet the economic value of that crop is even greater, when harvested and that corn is converted to meat, milk and eggs, ethanol, distillers grains, bioplastics and more. Corn is the foundation for all of that, so getting the crop in the ground and off to a good start this spring is critical. Then it’s up to the weather through the growing season to harvest.”