Ethanol Demand Boosts Corn Planting 15% in 2007, Biggest Since 1944

Corn planting will be up 15% this year to 90.5 million acres and 12.1 million more acres than in 2006,  the biggest U.S. corn planting since 1944, boosted by high demand from the ethanol industry and strong export sales, reports AP, citing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual prospective plantings report. 

Iowa remains on top with the most corn acres to be planted at 13.9 million -- a 10.3 percent increase from last year.

Farmers are choosing corn over cotton and rice. That switch means an 11 percent drop in soybean acres from 2006, with farmers planning to plant 67.1 million acres this year. Cotton is expected to reach 12.1 million acres, down 20 percent from 2006, and rice will drop 7 percent to 2.64 million acres.

However wheat is expected to rise 5 percent with 60.3 million acres. Other increases include: sorghum, up 9 percent; canola, up 12 percent; and barley, up 7 percent.

During the first two weeks of March, the USDA asked more than 86,000 farmers across the country what they intended to plant this year. Figures of actual acres planted for the year will be released on June 29.

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