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Illinois: Acreage Shifts Have Occurred For A Decade

More soybean acreage has been gradual

Most of the major U.S. soybean-producing states are increasing acres in 2017 vs. a year ago by margins ranging between 6-7%, while Illinois is pegged for just a 1% increase.

In its March 31 Prospective Planting Report, USDA estimated the nation’s soybean acreage increase at 7%, over last year, at a record-high 89.4 million.

So why the miniscule change for Illinois? Are farmers in that state planting more corn-on-corn acres, avoiding the switch to the least expensive production costs involved with the legume crop?


USDA estimates Illinois’s 2017 corn acres at 11.3 million, below the 11.6 million it planted last year and the 11.7 million in 2015.

Todd Ballard, USDA NASS Deputy Regional Director for Illinois and Missouri, says the soybean-to-corn acreage ratio has been changing in the last decade.
“In 2007, Illinois recorded 13.2 million acres of corn and 8.3 million acres of soybeans. In more recent years, the state planted 9.8 million acres of soybeans in 2014, 9.8 million in 2015, and 10.1 million in 2016. So the increase in soybeans occurred over time, compared with other states ramping up acres in just the last few years,” Ballard says.

It’s worth noting that last year the state of Illinois had a total of corn and soybean acreage of 21.7 million, while this year’s total is estimated to drop to 21.500 million.

“Farmers are making their planting decisions based first on the economics of farming. Secondly, this year’s weather could be a bigger determining factor, as it turns out,” Ballard says. “We were dry on March 1, when the USDA planting intention surveys hit the mailbox. But, now I’m standing in puddles of water. We’re wet.

Gary Schnitkey, University of Illinois economist, stated in this week’s farmdoc daily newsletter, “Whether planting corn-following-corn acres, as is implied by having more corn than soybean acres, is a profitable move for 2017 remains to be seen. Budgets would not suggest so.”

Recently,  the farm markets have not seen much change, regarding profitability between soybeans and corn, Schnitkey says.

“Relative price changes, however, have lowered profitability projections for 2017. Supply and demand analysis in a recent farmdoc webinar suggest prices of $3.60 for corn and $8.95 for soybeans. These prices would result in low levels of 2017 income. Of course, income projections can and will change as we progress through the growing season.”

Missouri Acreage

In its recent Prospective Planting Report, USDA pegged Missouri’s corn acreage 11% below a year ago at 3.25 million. Meanwhile, the “Show Me” state’s soybean acreage is estimated at 5.65 million, 1% higher than a year ago.

Meanwhile, Missouri’s cotton acreage is expected to rise slightly, this year, while wheat acreage is seen falling, according to the USDA.

“Missouri is so much more diverse than Illinois,” Ballard says. “Soybeans are replacing wheat and hay acres. There is room for acreage shifts. We could see  more double-crop soybeans, it’s hard to tell right now.”

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