It’s been a rough few years for corn growers and the tides have finally turned—for the first time soybeans will surpass corn in acres planted. Last year corn grew on 90 million acres, and this year it’s predicted to hit somewhere in the 89.5 to 90 million acre range.
“Because of the price performance of corn, everyone has been talking about a decline in corn acres for 2018,” Flory says. “Those expectations are probably right. How much of a decline? We can’t forget it’s corn. Guys will plant corn if they can plant corn.”
Flory is watching for the biggest acreage shifts in the western Corn Belt—more specifically North Dakota and South Dakota where corn can be replaced with more profitable crops such as spring wheat. States like Iowa with steady corn-soybean rotations probably won’t see as much of a change, he adds.
“I see corn acres overall at 89.5, which is lower than last year,” says Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois clinical assistant professor of agricultural commodity markets. “I think the Illinois in particular will plant more soybean acres.”
Prices for soybeans coupled with lower overall input costs are leading many producers to consider more soybeans. University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) also suggests corn acres will decrease from last year and predicts 89.7 million acres to the crop.
Soybeans won’t be the only crop gaining from corn’s lost acres. Cotton, sorghum, spring wheat and other spring planted crops could pick up the slack. Prices for these crops provide greater opportunity for farmers to be profitable, Hubbs explains.
There is light at the end of the tunnel for corn, though. FAPRI predicts corn acres will reach 91.3 million acres in the 2019/2020 marketing year.