The International Grains Council broke ranks with other forecasters, this week, estimating the world's farmers would harvest 664 million tons of wheat this year... up 4 million tons from its previous forecast.
The Agriculture Department, meanwhile, lowered its projections this month by 4.1 million tons due to heavy rains in eastern Europe; arid conditions in France and the United Kingdom; and outbreaks of yellow rust in Syria and Turkey.
Grain markets, many agricultural analysts and even the occasional "wise, old farm broadcaster" were caught off-guard Wednesday when the Agriculture Department released its latest Planted Acreage and Quarterly Stocks reports.
The acreage report revealed some unexpected changes from what farmers said they intended to plant last March. And when combined with a surprise or two in grains supplies, the reports pushed corn prices sharply higher.
USDA's latest acreage report, released Wednesday, revealed U.S. farmers have planted 87.9 million acres of corn. While the lofty figure exceeds last year's corn plantings by nearly 1.5 million acres, it's down 1 percent from USDA projections made in March.
Iowa leads the nation with 13.3 million corn acres but has 400,000 fewer acres than in 2009. While wet weather across the Corn Belt is a significant factor in the equation, USDA attributed the decrease in corn acreage, primarily, to an increase in soybean plantings.
According to the report, U.S. farmers planted an all-time high of nearly 79 million acres of soybeans. That's up 2 percent from 2009. Kansas, Nebraska, New York and Pennsylvania all reported record acres planted in soybeans, and Minnesota and Oklahoma tied all-time highs.
While corn and soybean plantings may be in record territory, total wheat acreage declined considerably from last year. USDA estimates 54.3 million acres of wheat have been sown. That's down 8 percent from 2009 and the lowest total since 1971.
The acreage report was friendly to corn but had bearish implications for wheat.
But USDA's concurrent release of its latest quarterly stocks report tightening old-crop corn supplies by nearly 300 million bushels ignited a rally. And corn moved limit-up on the news...