Soybeans planting may soar as farmers follow the money

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, April 1, 2014 -- With soybean prices nearly three times those of corn, U.S. farmers are indicating they will plant record acreage with the oilseed, while cutting the area sown with corn.

In a report released yesterday, USDA said farmers plan to sow 81.5 million acres with soybeans, which were trading yesterday at $14.64 a bushel. That would be the most planted acreage ever and a 6 percent increase from 2013. Planted acreage intentions are up or increased in every soybean growing state except Missouri and Oklahoma.

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On the other hand, planted acreage for corn, which was selling for just over $5 a bushel yesterday, may fall 4 percent to 91.7 million, which would be the lowest devoted to the most valuable U.S. crop since 2010. That would still be the fifth-largest planted acreage since 1944, the department said.

The USDA report on planting intentions is based primarily on surveys conducted in the first two weeks of March. It includes a sample of over 84,000 farm operators. The department will report on actual plantings on June 30.

“The forecast gives us an indication of what farmers intend to plant but everything depends on the weather,” Todd Davis, a crops economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a news release. “It remains to be seen whether or not farmers can plant their corn and soybeans in a timely fashion without a repeat of the problems seen in 2013 in the western Corn Belt,” he said.

With 91.7 million acres planted and average yields, final 2014 corn production is forecast to come in between 13.2 and 13.4 billion bushels, down from last year's record crop of nearly 14 billion bushels. Final soybean production could set a record of between 3.4 and 3.5 billion bushels, Davis said.

Acreage of other feed grains is projected to be down from last year as well, with grain sorghum, and oat plantings forecast to drop 17 percent, and 7 percent, respectively. Barley acreage is expected to decline 9 percent.

Planted acreage projections for other crops included:

-All-wheat at 55.8 million acres, down 1 percent.

-Cotton: 11.1 million acres, up 7 percent.

-Rice: 2.88 million acres, up 16 percent.

In a separate report, USDA said unsold supplies of U.S. corn totaled 7.01 billion bushels as of March 1, up 30 percent from a year earlier. Usage for the three-month period from December through February was indicated at 3.45 billion bushels, up from 2.63 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Soybean stockpiles were reported at 992 million bushels as the month began, down 1 percent from March 1, 2013. Indicated disappearance for the quarter ended Feb. 28 totaled 1.16 billion bushels, up 20 percent from a year earlier, USDA said.

All wheat supplies on March 1 were 1.06 billion bushels, USDA said, down 15 percent from a year earlier. The December-February indicated disappearance was 419 million bushels, down 4 percent from the same period a year earlier.

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