In just a few weeks, the USDA will start surveying growers about their planting intentions for 2015. This data will be released at the end of March in the planting intentions report, the first definitive look at the 2015 crop. The market has been expecting an increase in soybean acres, but University of Illinois ag economist Darrel Good says the increase may not be as much as first anticipated, “Given the increases in soybean acres we have seen the past few years, a more modest increase might be expected this year.” He said a planted soybean acreage number of 85 million acres seems reasonable. This past year US farmers planted almost 7 million more acres of soybeans than they did in 2013.
Good projects that, while soybean prices will be lower than last year, they may not be as low as earlier forecast, “Prices are expected to be supported by likelihood that soybean stocks at the end of the current marketing year will be 90 million bushels less than projected last fall.” Good says planting intentions reported in March have provided an unbiased forecast of actual plantings. Over the 19 year period, actual acreage exceeded intentions in 10 years and was less than intentions in 9 years. On average actual plantings exceeded intentions by just 98,000 acres. However, the difference exceeded 1 million acres in 9 years; 2 million acres in 4 years; and 3 million acres once. The June USDA Acreage report will provide a clearer picture of soybean acreage.
Arlan Suderman with Waterstreet Solutions says an increase in soybean acres is likely to come from a decline in cotton and wheat acres. “I think we will increase soybean acres by up to 4 million acres, but much of it will come from abandoned wheat acres and less cotton acres due to the loss of price supports for cotton in the new Farm Bill. Good says, if U.S. farmers plant 85.5 million acres of soybeans and if the harvested acres yield 45 bushels to the acre, then the United States would harvest 3.8 billion bushels of soybeans. That would be162 million bushels smaller than the 2014 crop, but probably lead to an overall supply of about 4.2 billion bushels or 120 million bushels more than this marketing year.