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Growers eye more soybeans, less corn

Growers eye more soybeans, less corn

Farm Futures shows markets encourage acreage shifts for 2017.

BOONE, IOWA -- Strong demand and profitable hedging opportunities on this year’s crop may convince farmers to boost their soybean acreage again next year, according to Farm Futures first survey of 2017 planting intentions.

Results of the annual survey, typically the first in the industry, were released on the opening day of the Farm Progress Show, held this year near Boone, Iowa.

Growers plan to plant more soybeans, less corn and wheat in 2017. (Photo: fotokostic/Thinkstock)

Growers said they are considering devoting a record 84.4 million acres to the oilseed, up almost 1% from 2016. But at the same time, they plan to put in less corn and wheat. Though farmers have shown a preference for corn historically, red ink may trim plantings to only 93.1 million acres next spring. That would be down around 1 million from 2016, when they boosted plantings 7%.

Wheat seedings could be lower for the fourth consecutive year, in a market beset by low prices. Producers said they were ready to plant 49.1 million acres, down 3.4%, which would be the lowest total since 1970. Most of the cutback would come in hard red winter wheat sown on the central and southern Plains, which had very good yields in 2016, and very weak cash prices as a result. Hard red winter wheat seedings could fall nearly 1.4 million, to 25.1 million. Soft red winter wheat could also be down, losing 2.7% to 6.4 million. But growers in the Pacific Northwest could be ready to boost white wheat planting modestly if conditions allow.

On the northern Plains, spring wheat ground could fall nearly 2% to 11.9 million, with durum down slightly after an increase in 2016.

Two other crops besides soybeans could pull a little acreage away from wheat and corn. Growers said they want to boost cotton plantings about one-half of 1% to 10.1 million. Sorghum ground could also be up less than 1% to 7.3 million.

The survey queried 1,225 growers from around the U.S. during late July and early August. Producers were invited by email to fill out an online survey about their planting plans.

With harvest of 2016 crops barely underway, much obviously could change by the time planters start rolling, said Farm Futures grain market analyst Bryce Knorr, who has conducted surveys for the magazine since 1988.

“Farmers show a tendency to base planting decisions on what worked the previous year, and soybeans were profitable for growers able to take advantage of hedging opportunities this summer,” Knorr said. “Strong buying from China also provides a much better fundamental underpinning for the market compared to corn and wheat, which lack demand drivers.”

Knorr said the ratio of new crop soybean to corn futures favors soybeans, though prices for both crops are well below break-even levels.

“Another factor to watch is moisture for seeding winter wheat,” he continued. “Above average rainfall is forecast over the central Plains into September, which could convince more farmers to plant wheat, hoping to double crop soybeans behind it.”





(in 1,000s)*



93.1 million





84.4 million



Soft Red Winter Wheat

6.4 million



Hard Red Winter Wheat

25.1 million



White Winter Wheat

3.5 million



All Winter Wheat

35 million



Spring Wheat


11.9 million





2.1 million



All Wheat


49.1 million





7.3 million





10.1 million



* vs USDA August 2016 estimates

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