Two straight years of La Nina events in Brazil and other parts of South America have had an impact on soybean production that, in turn, has helped keep soybean prices at profitable levels for U.S. growers.
Seth Meyer, USDA’s chief economist, was asked whether such weather could have a similar effect in 2022-2023 during the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s Webinar following the release of the March 31 USDA Planting Intentions Report.
“It is early,” said Meyer, referring to a question from Mac Marshall, vice president of market intelligence for the USSEC and the United Soybean Board, during the webinar. Marshall asked about the impact of weather patterns given USDA’s forecast that U.S. farmers could plant 90.9 million acres of soybeans this spring.
“We’ve been having discussions about what we refer to as a double-dip La Nina and kind of what patterns set themselves up there,” said Meyer. “There are some relationships; they tend to be a little bit loose.
“But there are some relationships where our producer in Indiana might see a bit of or might be wet. There’s not an expectation in the west of the United States that we will see a break in that drought, and right now we’ve got a little more than 70% of our winter wheat crop in drought.”
Meyer’s presentation was followed by a panel of soybean producers from Iowa, Indiana and Tennessee. Tim Bardole of Rippee, Iowa, Jim Douglas of Flat Rock, Ind., and David Nichols of Ridgely, Tenn., talked about the outlook for soybean production in their areas in 2022.
“Yes, there are some La Nina patterns that would normally tell us we’re going to hold on to the drought in the west. If we go east of the Mississippi, in some locations, we might be wetter than normal.”
“There’s certainly a lot to unfold there,” said Marshall. “We had very dynamic weather patterns there for much of the soybean crop that was in drought regions, potentially under stress. But across the whole country we overcame that and produced a record crop, which was a real testament to the resilience of our producers.”
Marshall asked about the outlook for vegetable oils, which have helped lead the rally in soybean prices since 2020.
“Vegetable oil demand has been good in the United States,” said Meyer. “We’ve had some hiccups in production, and I think you will see more countries putting on export bans and not just for sunflower oil. These will transmit some volatility into the global markets, as well.
“Some folks who have a strong preference for a particular kind of oil – they’re going to pay the price for that,” he said. “The Ukrainians export half of the world’s sunflower oil. So, if that is what you prefer, it’s going to be a tight market potentially for that product. think those export controls don't help. They add volatility to the market, and it’s just not something we do in the United States.”
“No, and that last point is really well taken,” said Marshall. “One of the things that (USSEC CEO) Jim Sutter always says is one of our hallmarks is being a reliable supplier, and it’s definitely not something to take for granted.”
To watch the webinar, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgBQny6Nxr4
About the Author(s)
Forrest Laws, senior director of content for Farm Press, spent 10 years with The Memphis Press-Scimitar before joining Delta Farm Press in 1980. He has written extensively on farm production practices, crop marketing, farm legislation, environmental regulations and alternative energy. He now oversees the content creation for Delta, Southeast, Southwest and Western Farm Press. He resides in Memphis, Tenn. He served as a missile launch officer in the U.S. Air Force before resuming his career in journalism with The Press-Scimitar.
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