U.S. soybean growers would rather fight than switch

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Before even a single infectious spore lands on a cropfield this spring or summer, Asian soybean rust is affecting United States soybean production.
The impact isn’t as great as some might have thought, however, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agricultural economist.
What’s in your planter? In fact, a USDA in a report issued March 31 might actually motivate growers to reconsider their spring planting plans, Hurt said.
The USDA’s Prospective Plantings Report, based on farmer surveys, projected a 2 percent dip in national soybean acreage and a 1 percent increase in national corn acreage this spring, compared to 2004.
“There probably was not as big a reduction in the soybean acreage as some had anticipated, especially if you go back in January and early February when we saw people talking about a 3 percent to 5 percent reduction across the United States,” Hurt said.
Price rally. One of the reasons that that reduction in bean acreage hasn’t been as big is because soybean prices for the new crop have rallied relative to corn, Hurt added.
That means the incentive to plant soybeans has increased over the last six weeks because of these higher new-crop bean prices.
Record corn? The USDA report estimated 2005 U.S. soybean acreage at 73.9 million acres.
National corn acreage is projected at 81.4 million acres. The projected corn acreage would be the largest in the U.S. since 1985.
Soybean rust, a fungal disease that can devastate crop yields, was a factor in the lower soybean acreage projections, the USDA reported. Fifty-three percent of U.S. farmers said they intend to plant fewer soybean acres because of the rust threat.
Farmers across the country also told the USDA they plan to substitute other oilseed crops, such as sunflowers and canola, for soybean crops this spring.
Just a guess. Because the USDA report is based on estimates, farmers can – and probably will – shift some corn acres back to soybeans, Hurt said.
It is important to note that this is a ‘prospective’ plantings report, he said.
“Over the last 10 years we have actually seen about a million acres change on corn and soybeans, on average. That has been as high as about 2 million acres, depending on the year.”
On heels of record. In 2004, U.S. farmers produced 11.8 billion bushels of corn and 3.14 billion bushels of soybeans. Both were U.S. production records.
The national corn yield was estimated at 160.4 bushels per acre, with U.S. soybean yield at 42.5 bushels an acre.
U.S. harvested soybean acreage totaled 73.9 million acres, with corn harvested on 73.6 million acres.
Ohio acreage up. Ohio farmers intend to plant slightly more corn and soybeans in 2005, according to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics reports.
The state’s corn producers intend to plant 3.40 million acres this spring, 50,000 acres more than were planted last year.
Soybean acreage is forecast at 4.50 million acres, also up 50,000 acres from 2004.
Winter wheat planted acreage is forecast at 840,000 acres, unchanged from the December forecast, but 80,000 acres less than was seeded the previous year.
Ohio hay producers expected to harvest a total of 1.25 million acres, a 5 percent increase from the previous year. This includes alfalfa, grain, and all other types of hay.
Tobacco on way out. The state’s tobacco producers intend to harvest 4,500 acres in 2005, down 1,100 acres from 2004, and if realized will be the least amount of acreage on record. The elimination of the tobacco program is the main reason for the expected decline.
Pa. intentions. Pennsylvania farmers intend to plant more acres of oats, soybeans, and sorghum this spring.
Expected oats planted acreage is 140,000, up 8 percent from last year, but unchanged from 2003.
Intended plantings of corn for all purposes are 1.4 million acres, down 50,000 acres from last year and 100,000 acres below two years ago.
Farmers also intend to plant 13,000 acres of sorghum in 2005, which is up 1,000 acres from last year, but down 2,000 acres from 2003.
Soybean acreage planting intentions in the commonwealth are at 440,000 acres, 2 percent more than last year, and 60,000 more acres than two years ago.

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