USDA’s March 31 Prospective Plantings report does little to alleviate worries that hay supplies will become even tighter in the coming year. The agency says growers expect to harvest 60.6 million acres of it this year, 2% fewer than in 2007. Harvested acreage is expected to drop throughout most of the Great Plains, Southeast and Southwest. Texas is expected to have the largest decrease – 390,000 acres. South Dakota and Nebraska are expected to be down 300,000 and 150,000 acres, respectively. However, acreage is forecast to increase in most states in the northern Great Plains, Western Mountain regions and Northeast. The states with the largest expected increases are North Dakota, up 120,000 acres, and Montana, Wyoming, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania, each up 50,000 acres. In the West, minor increases are expected in Oregon, Nevada and California, while a 40,000-acre decline is predicted for Washington state.

Corn growers intend to plant 86 million acres of corn for all purposes, down 8% from last year’s acreage, which was the highest since 1944. Soybean acreage is forecast at 74.8 million, an 18% increase but 1% below the record set in 2006.

Acreage of all types of wheat is estimated at 63.8 million, up 6%. USDA says growers planted 46.8 million acres of winter wheat, 4% more than they planted the previous year.