Purdue News

March 31, 2005

Ag economist: U.S. soybean acreage down, but not out

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Before even a single infectious spore lands on a cropfield this spring or summer, Asian soybean rust is affecting U.S. soybean production. The impact isn't as great as some might have thought, however, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agricultural economist.

In fact, a U.S. Department of Agriculture report issued today (Thursday, 3/31) 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 to 5 percent reduction across the United States," Hurt said.

"One of the reasons that the reduction in bean acreage hasn't been as big is because soybean prices for the new crop have rallied relative to corn. So the incentive to plant soybeans has increased over the last six weeks because of these higher new-crop bean prices."

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 United States since 1985.

Indiana farmers followed national trends. They told the USDA they intend to plant 5.4 million acres of soybeans - down 3 percent from a year ago - and 5.8 million acres of corn, up 2 percent.

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 and 48 percent of Indiana farmers said they intend to plant fewer soybean acres because of the rust threat.

"In this report, we saw a 150,000-acre reduction in soybeans and 100,000 more acres of corn in the state of Indiana," Hurt said. "Those were about the numbers we had been thinking going into this report here in the Eastern Corn Belt. As we look across the country, we see where the incidence of rust is expected to be higher and where, perhaps, fungicide spraying will have to occur more times, there was greater reduction in soybean acreage."

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.

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. "It is the intention of USDA to provide some information to farmers of what the planting anticipation of they and their neighbors is so that adjustments still can be made. While it's getting close to the planting season here in the Midwest, there still can be some modest adjustments.

"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."

The USDA report is available online.

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 and 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.

Indiana farmers produced record crops of corn and soybeans. Corn production was 929 million bushels, produced on 5.53 million acres. Average corn yield was 168 bushels per acre. Hoosier farmers produced 287 million bushels of soybeans from 5.52 million acres, at an average yield of 52 bushels per acre.

Writer: Steve Leer, (765) 494-8415, sleer@purdue.edu

Source: Chris Hurt, (765) 494-4273, hurtc@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
Agriculture News Page


Related Web site:
Purdue University Department of Agricultural Economics


To the News Service home page

Newsroom Search Newsroom home Newsroom Archive