U of I Extension’s Friend speculates on impact of USDA’s prospective planting report

By Gary Scott on March 30, 2018 at 12:25pm

The annual report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that farmers and producers intend to plant more soybeans than corn for the first time in over three decades.

With Illinois being among the top soybean producer in the country, particularly in Ag-dominated areas in west central Illinois, the recent report is the topic of discussion within the local agriculture industry. The annual prospective planting report released yesterday says that American farmers intend to plant 89 million acres in soybeans and 88 million acres of corn.

Duane Friend is an educator with Morgan County’s University of Illinois Extension Office and he’s sharing some of his thoughts on the potential reasons behind the change. Friend says that prices are likely the main reason for the planting estimates.

“A lot of it is being driven solely by the price that’s out there right now. Corn prices have dropped dramatically compared to where they were five or six years ago. Bean prices are still relatively good, and the yields on beans have been very good in the last few years, so I think a lot of folks are seeing that as a potential for getting more profits out of their crop for this particular year, so that’s why they’re doing the switch,” says Friend.

Friend discusses some of the potential long term effects this change could have on the various crop markets.

“One of the concerns maybe in the long run, when you look at the marketing aspect of it, the amount of export on the soybeans doesn’t appear to be as great as it was thought to be or going to be on the year. On the other hand, corn’s kind of going the other way, so those folks that do plant corn – and this is all speculation – but prices may fair fairly well for corn in the long run simply because there’s going to be less acreage of it, and the potential for its export may be fairly good. Now again that’s just a speculative report, but may be something people want to look at as well,” Friend says.

As for other possible implications that a switch to more soybeans might have, Friend says area farmers will likely keep an on how the new federal trade tariffs effect this year’s crop.

“The other aspect that’s really an unknown is, with some of the trade tariffs coming into play, we don’t know the full outcome of what that is going to mean in terms of things for Illinois farmers. So that is something that’s kind of in the background that we’ll kind of have to keep a close eye on as well. Hopefully it won’t hurt our farmers, but that remains to be seen,” says Friend.

According to the USDA report, Illinois farmers will plant a little over 10 and a half million acres of soybeans.