Major shifts in acreage first noted last summer by Farm Futures magazine appear to be holding as farmers make final plans for spring plantings, according to the publication’s latest survey report. Farmers indicated they intend to increase soybean seedings more than earlier estimates, while cutting back corn ground.

Soybean intentions at a record 82.93 million acres would easily be an all-time record. If achieved, seedings would be up 8.4 percent over last year’s total, which was cut by wet conditions last spring. All key states showed increases, with some of the biggest shifts possible in Illinois, where farmers pushed corn-on-corn in recent years to capture profits from the ethanol boom. Though projected profits for both crops are lower this year, prices favor soybeans, making it easier for farmers to shift acreage and improve crop rotations.

Corn planting intentions could decrease to 92.06 million acres, down 3.5 percent from last year’s lower than expected total, when farmers failed to put in more than 3.5 million acres of corn because of wet, cold conditions. Still, that would be the fourth largest area since 1944, if achieved. “While the ratio of new crop soybean to corn prices actually pulled back a little over the winter, the strong rally in old crop soybeans appeared to convince many farmers to take the plunge and plant more soybeans,” says Farm Futures Senior Grain Market Analyst Bryce Knorr. “November futures are following a more bullish seasonal trend than December corn, which gives soybeans a better chance for rallies during the spring and summer.”

However, Knorr cautions that USDA’s March 31 estimate could provide more surprises to a market that has already seen plenty from recent government reports. “Interpreting data from surveys this year will be more difficult than usual, because so much corn ground wasn’t planted,” he says. “The range of potential outcomes from USDA is fairly wide, so farmers should be prepared for both bullish and bearish reactions. “Another wet spring on the northern plains could mean more acres planted to soybeans in an area where growers have demonstrated an eagerness to plant them already,” says Knorr.

Farm Futures questioned 1,775 growers nationwide March 4 to March 20 by email, the largest non-government survey of farmers about their plans, the magazine noted.

A report from the brokerage firm Allendale, which expects soybean planting intentions to surpass 83 million acres confirmed the Farm Futures findings. Using Allendale’s estimate of harvested acreage and a trend yield of 44.29 bushels per acre, this year’s soybean production would be a record high 3.639 billion bushels, according to an report. Last year’s production was 3.289 billion bushels.

Allendale expects corn plantings of 92.349 million acres, the fourth largest since 1944. Using the firm’s estimate of harvested acreage and a trend yield of 163 bushels per acre, this year’s corn crop would be the second largest ever at 13.781 billion bushels. Last year’s record-large crop was 13.925 billion bushels. “While it is way too early to talk about late planting, it is not too late to talk about this year’s delayed spring,” the report noted.