Analysts continue to speculate a decline in corn plantings this spring due to high energy prices. Diesel fuel, natural gas and fertilizer prices are significantly higher than last year. IowaStateUniversity economist Bob Wisner notes that corn production requires more nitrogen fertilizer than soybeans and often more diesel fuel for tillage. In irrigated areas of the Great Plains, farmers use natural gas to run irrigation pumps, and in some years, corn requires more gas for drying.

These issues could lead to a significant acreage shift from corn to soybeans. The increase in ethanol production could encourage corn planting in some areas. Wisner points out that at times this winter, Iowa ethanol plants have out-bid local elevators for summer corn delivery by 15 cents to 20 cents.

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