Montana Prospective Planting 2020 Highlights

Montana Prospective Planting 2020 Highlights

·        Corn-135,000 acres up 17%

·        Barley-1.1 million acres up 90,000 acres, the highest since 2003

·        Winter Wheat-1.6 million acres down from 2 million acres in 2019

·        Durum-570,000 acres, up 20,000 acres from 2019

·        Spring Wheat-3.3 million acres, up 400,000 acres, highest since 2002

·        Canola-175,000 acres, up 25,000 Acres (record high)


Looking at the 2020 Prospective Planting Report, it is important to think about harvest and planting conditions last fall. Fall of 2019 had lots of moisture, it was hard to get in the field and snow came very early. Those conditions explain most of the changes in this year’s prospective plantings. Farmers were not able to get all their winter wheat in the ground last fall, thus the 400,000 acre shift from winter wheat to spring.


What is most surprising to me is the increase in barley acres. Even though large domestic buyers have been cutting acres, MWBC hosted several interested international breweries this past summer, and Montana Craft Malt now in operation could additionally account for this increase.  Barley is a good rotation and has a lower cost of production so maybe farmers are feeling confident in an open market demand increase as well.


Good spring moisture throughout the state may explain the 17% increase in corn acres.  Will the increase become the new normal? Depends on the moisture levels this summer and how the price of crude oil is affected, these acres could all become silage, it's been a wild ride lately.


Durum has a slight increase; in the Golden Triangle durum is typically a contracted crop. Durum acres have been shifting into Montana from North Dakota. Depending on how the price of durum changes in the next couple weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number is higher than anticipated.


With so much uncertainty in almost everything: stock market, grain market, election year, COVID-19, and more, it is good to see that our farmers are carrying on.


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