Farmers intend to plant more crop acreage in the coming year, according to USDA’s March 31 planting intentions report. That’s no surprise, according to a Missouri University economist, but the March 1 corn stocks number was.

“The intended corn and soybean acreages were not out of line with trade expectations,” said the Food, Agriculture, and Policy Research Institute’s Melvin Brees. “However, the grain stocks report suggests corn supplies are more than adequate.”

This could be bearish news, which could lead to lower corn and soybean futures prices. Brees doesn’t think this report will cause much more than an initial market reaction. Other influences, spring weather and outside markets will continue to be major corn market factors.

Brees made his observations in his crop-commentary blog issued after each USDA crop report. It can be found in the “Farmers’ Corner” at www.fapri.missouri.edu.

USDA projected U.S. farmers intend to plant 88.8 million acres of corn this year, which could make it the second largest crop on record. That is 3 percent above the 2009 crop of 86.5 million acres. Most of that increased acreage in 2010 comes from reduced winter wheat plantings.

Missouri farmers intend to plant 3.3 million acres of corn, up 300,000 acres over last year.

U.S. soybean producers intend to plant 78.1 million acres, somewhat below the average pre-report estimate. Missourians intend to plant 5.4 million acres of soybeans, up 50,000 acres.

Soybean price movers to watch are Chinese demand and South American export competition, Brees said.

Cotton plantings are expected to increase 14.8 percent as U.S. acreage rises above 10 million for the first time in three years. Farmers in the Bootheel where most of Missouri’s cotton is grown are expected to increase their seedings 7 percent, from 272,000 to 290,000 acres.

Early estimates of producer intentions are based on surveys by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. Much can change between the time of the survey earlier in March and the final decision at planting time.

MU FAPRI maintains models of the U.S. agriculture for use in developing baseline projections for use in analyzing policy changes proposed by the U.S. Congress. As part of MU Extension, FAPRI economists provide market analysis for producers.