With a mostly inconsequential supply-and-demand report out of the way, the market looked forward to March 30, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture will issue its annual Prospective Plantings report that will present producers’ intentions with regard to crop selection for this season. It is typical around this time of year that competition for acres is reflected in comparative price moves of the principal crops – wheat, corn and soybeans. While U.S. and world wheat supplies were ample, tightness was the rule in U.S. and world corn supplies and in world soybean supplies, and the competition for U.S. acres between the latter two crops was of the greatest interest.

The U.S.D.A.’s March World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates left both U.S. corn and soybean balance sheets for the current year nearly unchanged. In fact, there was no change from February to the corn balance sheet with the U.S.D.A. forecasting the U.S. corn carryover of Sept. 1, 2012, at 801 million bus, down 327 million bus, or 29%, from 1,128 million bus in 2011 and compared with 1,708 million bus in 2010. The U.S. carryover of soybeans on Sept. 1, 2012, was forecast unchanged from February at 275 million bus, up 60 million bus from 215 million bus in 2011. But on a world scale, the soybean supply for 2011-12, because of drought-reduced crops in South America, was tightening with the U.S.D.A. forecasting 2011-12 world soybean ending stocks at 57.30 million tonnes, down 2.98 million tonnes from the February outlook and compared with 68.76 million tonnes in 2010-11.

At the recent Agricultural Outlook Forum, the U.S.D.A. preliminarily forecast all-wheat plantings for 2012 at 58 million acres, up 3.6 million acres from 2011, corn plantings at 94 million acres, up 2.1 million acres from 2011 and the most since 1944, and soybean plantings at 75 million acres, unchanged from 2011.