Farm Progress

Soybean and cotton seedings could soar this spring as corn, wheat and sorghum falter.

Bryce Knorr 1, Senior Market Analyst, Farm Futures

January 19, 2017

2 Min Read

The invisible hand of the market is talking – and farmers are listening. Our latest Farm Futures survey of 2017 planting intentions shows a massive acreage shift in the works for this spring as growers try to figure out how to make a profit in another challenging year.

Results of the survey of 1,060 producers from 40 states were released Thursday morning on the first day of Farm Futures annual Business Summit in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Growers said they want to plant 90.52 million acres of soybeans this spring, easily a record, and 8.5% more than in 2016. If achieved, soybeans would attract more acres than corn for the first time since the PIK year of 1983, when growers idled ground in a government program. Farmers said they plan to plant 90.49 million acres of corn, down 3.7% from 2016.

The cutback in corn would be accompanied by reductions in sorghum and spring-planted wheat. Farmers said they would slash sorghum acreage 15.8% to 5.63 million, cutting 5.1% off spring wheat and durum to 11 million and 2.3 million respectively.

Cotton was the only crop other than soybeans to gain ground in the survey. Farmers intend to plant 11.45 million acres, up 13.7% from 2016.

Farmers showed they were ready to abandon unprofitable crops when USDA Jan. 12 reported its survey of winter wheat seedings, which came in at the lowest level since 1909. The 10.4% reduction was even more than Farm Futures found in its recent survey.

Total plantings reported in the survey would be down around 580,000 acres, though some of that would wind up in other crops.

Most of the reductions planned by farmers would wind up in soybeans, which gained 7.1 million acres, with cotton gaining another 1.4 million. Corn would lose 3.5 million, with all wheat down 4.5 million and sorghum down 1.1 million.

Soybeans appear to be gaining favor in part because they made a small profit for the average grower in 2016. The ratio of new crop soybeans to corn also favors the oilseed, and November soybean futures are beginning to approach profitable levels for growers willing to hedge production nine months before harvest.


About the Author(s)

Bryce Knorr 1

Senior Market Analyst, Farm Futures

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