After taking a backseat to corn for the past several years, soybeans are in the spotlight for 2014. Other crops, such as cotton, rice, peanuts, sunflowers and canola, have also found their way back into farmers’ crop mixes.
In its annual Acreage report, released at the end of June, USDA shows more soybeans will be planted this year than ever before. For 2014, 84.8 million acres of soybeans were planted, up 11% from last year. Farmers in Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin planted record-high levels of soybeans.
Meanwhile, corn acres are estimated at 91.6 million acres, down 4% from last year, representing the lowest planted since 2010.
The shift from corn to soybeans wasn’t a surprise, says Jerry Gulke, president of The Gulke Group. "Seed companies had told us they sold a lot less corn and more beans this year," he says. "Farmers responded to the marketplace and said they would plant corn, but not go overboard. Then it got late and they switched over to beans."
For farmers in areas that have crop options beyond corn and soybeans, this year is a step back to other crops. Here are a few of the crops that are back in vogue for 2014:
- Canola: 1.75 million acres, up 30% from 2013
- Peanuts: 1.32 million acres, up 23% from 2013
- Rice: 3.05 million acres, up 22% from 2013
- Cotton: 11.4 million acres, up 9% from 2013
- Sunflowers: 1.71 million acres, up 8% from 2013
All wheat acres encompass 56.5 million acres, which is up less than 1% from 2013. Sorghum acres dropped 7% from to 2013 to 7.47 million acres for 2014.
As of early July, the 2014 crop season is shaping up well in some areas and is challenging in others, according to farmer reports to AgWeb’s Crop Comments. "My crops are off to a good start," says a farmer in Macon County, Ga. "Most corn is tasseling and the first cutting of hay is done and we have fertilized for the second. Weather is about as good as we could have hoped."
In Adams County, Neb., a farmer says the crops look great and record-high yields may be in the cards. "We’ve had lots of rain, which is far better than drought and declining aquifers," the farmer says. The soybean crop is also off to a great start in the South. "Some localized areas have been wetter than others this spring but on average, things look good," says a Tippah County, Miss., farmer.
Yet, wet weather and summer storms have wreaked havoc in some areas. Flash flooding, hail and continuous days of heavy rain were reported by farmers in Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota.
"Crops started late but came up good," says a farmer in Pennington County, Minn. "But, rain and cool weather has hurt small grains and the row crops are small. We are going to need heat and dry weather soon."
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