Farmers to plant more soybeans next year, stand pat on corn

The survey was conducted before a derecho in Iowa and drought in the western Corn Belt reduced the outlook for this year’s crops.

Recent increases in market prices are making soybeans more attractive, and farmers will respond by expanding soybean acreage by nearly 5% in 2021 while holding steady on corn acreage, said Farm Futures on Wednesday. If the results of the August survey hold up, soybean plantings next year would be 87.9 million acres, the third-largest total ever.

“Market incentives justify this move,” said Farm Futures, pointing to large soybean purchases by China since midsummer. Throughout the summer, futures prices for 2021 crops indicated soybeans would be more profitable than corn.

The survey was conducted before a derecho in Iowa and drought in the western Corn Belt reduced the outlook for this year’s crops. Last week, the USDA lowered its forecast of the corn harvest by 375 million bushels, to a more manageable 14.9 billion bushels, and the soybean estimate by 112 million bushels. Soybean futures surged to more than $10 a bushel on Wednesday. The corn crop is forecast by the USDA to be the second largest on record and soybeans the third largest.

Based on responses from 1,044 producers, Farm Futures estimated corn plantings of 91.8 million acres in 2021, compared with 92 million acres this year. Soybean plantings of 87.9 million acres would be an increase of 4.1 million acres from this year. Growers are expected to sow 31.2 million acres of winter wheat, which would be the first increase in seven years and a rise of 2% from this year. Winter wheat is the dominant U.S. wheat variety.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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