We don’t want to kick corn-based ethanol while it’s down, but in another sign that the ethanol boom is coming to an end, Monsanto (MON) CEO Hugh Grant is predicting a slight decline in corn plantings for 2008. This follows a 2007 crop season in which corn acreage leapt 19 percent to a record high.
Monsanto, one of the leading producers of seeds for corn in the U.S., reported fiscal year 2007 earnings this morning of $1.79 per share on a record $8.56 billion in revenue. In a conference call with investment analysts, he talked about market conditions for crops where Monsanto has major exposure: corn, soy, and cotton.
Grant (no relation to the famously awkward British actor) responded to a question on domestic corn acreage with this projection:
“As we are looking at how 2008 unfolds, our guess is that there will be about 90 million acres of corn, about 65 million acres of soybeans, and the cotton will be about flat year on year.”
But he cautioned that the number was hard to predict, saying, “We don’t lose sleep on that because whatever number we place the bets on is probably going to be wrong.”
From 2002 through 2006, corn plantings in the U.S. had hovered between 78 and 81 million acres.