Deere & Co entered the furore over preliminary official estimates for US spring plantings by coming out with its own forecasts – pegging sowings of soybeans even larger at a record high.
The tractor maker agreed with the US Department of Agriculture's forecast on Monday that domestic corn sowings will hit 92.0m acres this year.
However, it raised the bid on soybean acres by 1.0m acres to 79.0m acres, easily surpassing the record 77.5m acres set two years ago.
The extra area would come at the expense of wheat, for which seedings were estimated at 55.5m acres, 1.5m acres below the USDA figure, and the lowest – excluding last year's historically low total – for nearly 40 years.
Factoring in the high rate of winter wheat sowings, this figure implies a fall of 1.8m acres in spring seedings – or a rich rate of replanting with other crops of winter wheat areas struggling with a dearth of rainfall.
'Every available acre'
Overall, Deere concurred with a USDA estimate of an extra 9.3m acres being allocated to the major four crops, including cotton.
"Obviously it's early – too early to know the ultimate outcome," Susan Karlix, manager of Deere investor communications, told analysts.
"That said, our base case calls for planted acres to increase, driven by strong global demand and historically low carryover stocks.
"Good profitability creates an incentive for farmers to plant on every available acre."
However, unlike USDA officials, Deere appeared to back ideas of cuts to sowings of more minor grains, highlighting that its consultants, Informa Economics, had estimated total plantings to major crops expanding by 7.4m acres.
Christmas wish list
Indeed, it is the USDA's estimate of a total US sowings rising by 10m acres that has caused particular doubt among analysts, and is being blamed in part for a sell-off in crops that continued on Wednesday for a third day.
"Most in the trade are anticipating acres to be up 6m-7m acres," US Commodities said.
At Market 1, Mike Mawdsley said: "It is like plugging in your Christmas list, waking up and all the acres you want have come out."
And at Benson Quinn Commodities, Brian Henry said that while "78m acres of soybeans isn't out of the question, a 10m-acre increase in total planted acres is in question".
While some 4m acres of land has been released from conservation programmes over the last three years, only about 1m acres of that was suitable for corn or soybeans, Jerry Gidel at North America Risk Management said.
He also took issue with Deere's forecasts of bumper yields, with the forecast for corn pegged at 163.4 bushels per acre, 1.3 bushels per acre below its record high, and for soybeans 0.2 bushels per acre from its all-time high.
Estimates of corn yields of 163-64 bushels per acre were "ridiculous" this early in the season, when regression analysis suggested lower figures.
"An estimate of 161 bushels per acre you can defend with your life," he said.Continue reading this article >>