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How Many Soybean Acres do We Really Need

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Darrel Good

Last month, the USDA surveyed soybean producers about their intended planting. This survey divulged plans to plant 81.493 million acres of soybeans this year, 4.96 million more acres than actually planted in 2013, and 4.042 million more than the previous record acreage in 2009.  Soybean planters will also exceed last year’s acreage in every major soybean state except Missouri, with the largest increases reported for Minnesota, Nebraska, and North Dakota.

According to Darrel Good of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, “The large increase in soybean planting intentions reflects strong world demand for soybeans and the resulting high prices of soybeans relative to other crops, particularly corn. As the planting season gets underway, the job of the markets is to direct final planting decisions of major spring-planted crops. That is a complicated process surrounded by a lot of uncertainty about the nature of the growing season and resulting yields, as well as uncertainty about the strength of demand for U.S. crops during the year ahead. The market, however, must direct planting decisions without knowing the outcome of these important factors.”

The USDA predicts the U.S. will consume 3.36 billion bushels of soybeans, equal to record consumption during the 2009-10 marketing year. With an estimated 135 million bushels of stock of soybeans at the start of the 2014-15 marketing year, farmers will need to harvest 3.395 billion bushels this year to meet the projected consumption of 3.36 billion bushels. In the U.S., each harvested acre of soybeans yields an average of 44.2 bushels, requiring a favorable growing season and 76.8 million harvested acres of soybeans to meet demand. “Over the past 10 years, planted acreage of soybeans in the U.S. has differed by as much as 3.3 million acres from March intentions and the market still has some time to influence the magnitude of acreage in 2014,” Good said. “Unless conditions change dramatically, however, it appears that planting intentions reported last month are fully adequate to meet consumption needs at more modest price levels than experienced during the past three marketing years.”

For more information, read Good’s article at https://farmdoc.illinois.edu/marketing/weekly/html/042114.html



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