For the first time soybeans acres will exceed corn acres to become the most-planted crop in the U.S. USDA said the crop will reach a record 89.5 million acres in its most recent report—other experts say they can see it reaching up to 92 million acres.
“Cash flow is tight,” says Farm Journal Economist Chip Flory. “We’re looking for the cheaper of the two choices in the Midwest to plant. That would be soybeans.”
With soybean prices on the rise due to Argentinian weather issues and export demand, paired with lower production costs, the crop is too good a deal for many to turn away. Even with corn yields on a steady incline, it’s not enough for that crop to be more profitable than soybeans.
“I’ve put soybeans at 91.3 million, up 1.1 million acres from last year, and recent surveys have shown even up to 92,” says Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois clinical assistant professor of agricultural commodity markets. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we hit 92 million, but I still think there could be some shifts to cotton, rice and spring wheat that keep soybeans at 91.3 million acres.”
University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) predicts soybeans will stay in the 90 million acre range which is still above their estimates for corn.
“Soybean areas are expected to exceed corn acres in 2018 for the first time,” FAPRI reports. “However, as profits wane, soybean acreage falls in subsequent years.”
FAPRI's long term predictions show soybean acres falling, but still staying fairly high with at least 87 million acres over the next five years.
“We’re going to see good potential for prices moves with the March 29 USDA report,” Hubbs says. “It’s a good time to monitor the markets.”