Farmers plan to plant 93.1 million acres of corn next year, down 2.9 percent from USDA’s planting intentions of 95.9 million acres this year, when they planted the most corn acreage in 75 years, according to Farm Futures’ survey. Over 1,800 corn growers participated in the survey.  Farmers actually planted slightly more corn in 2012 the survey found than reported in June by USDA, though they abandoned more of that acreage than the department estimated due to drought conditions, the report explained.

Instead of increasing corn plantings next year, as many crop analysts have assumed, farmers apparently plan to continue to expand soybean acreage in the year ahead. Growers said they want to seed 78.1 million soybean acres next spring, up 1.2 percent from this year’s total. Farm Futures also found higher soybean acreage this year, than USDA, and greater abandonment, too.

“Ironically, this shift from corn to soybeans mirrors a similar shift taking place in South America as well, casting doubts on the world’s ability to rebuild tight global feed grain stocks without a significant shift in global weather patterns to boost yields in 2013,” notes Farm Futures market analyst Arlan Suderman.

Wheat acreage is also expected to rise in the year ahead, according to the Farm Futures survey, reaching 57 million, up 1.8 percent. However, that increase would not be uniform across the country. Instead, farmers in the eastern Midwest and South want to increase seedings of soft red winter wheat, while those in the Pacific Northwest are planning more white wheat. But, both hard red spring and winter wheat seedings could decrease for the crop harvested in 2013.

“Of course, these findings are just the opening salvo in the battle to buy acres in the year ahead,” says Farm Futures Senior Editor Bryce Knorr, who conducted the research. “Farmer intentions can and do change, as they look at the profitability of different crops. But these results tell us that growers would like to get their rotations back in balance after pushing corn in recent years. “Initial budgets for corn give it a strong advantage over soybeans, according to our projections. While farmers fear rising costs, especially for fertilizer, so far expenses don’t look like they’re increasing much. And 2013 crop corn prices are relatively stronger than those for soybeans, because the market assumes a big South American crop will hit the pipeline this coming spring.”

Wheat acreage could rise because profits for that crop are very competitive with soybeans, Knorr says. “Growers were pleasantly surprised by returns from wheat, due to strong price guarantees locked into Revenue Protection crop insurance. That coverage looks good again for the coming year, with wheat in its discovery period for the program when base prices are set. However, growers on the northern Plains continue to switch ground to corn and soybeans, holding down spring wheat acreage there. And farmers on the central and southern Plains may be reluctant to seed hard red winter wheat due to the lingering effects of the drought.”