E-mail this article to
yourself or a friend.
Enter address:


USDA predicts record soybean plantings

(Friday, April 2, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- Ira Dreyfuss, Associated Press, 03/31/04: WASHINGTON - Expecting continued high prices, farmers are planting more soybeans than ever, the Agriculture Department said Wednesday.

Growers intend to plant an estimated 75.4 million acres, up three percent from last year. The acreage would be a record and a rebound from a three-year decline, the department said. The previous high was 74.3 million acres in 2000.

Soybean prices are about their second or third highest in history, said Rich Nelson, director of research for the agriculture analysis firm Allendale Inc. of McHenry, Ill. And March contracts for soybean delivery in May have been as high as $10.62 per bushel, more than double the same contracts for last May, Nelson said.

Export markets are a key reason. Brazil, the leading U.S. competitor in soybeans, has had problems with disease and lack of rainfall at crucial growing times, Nelson said. And demand is strong, especially in China, he said.

The Agriculture Department said farmers in the southern Great Plains and Southeast were switching acreage from corn to soybeans because soybean prices were better. The department estimated corn plantings at 79 million acres, a fractional increase from 2003 and 2002. Corn acreage did not drop because Corn Belt farmers were planning to increase plantings, offsetting cuts elsewhere, the USDA report said.

Corn prices also have been improving, following the trend in soybeans, Nelson said. March contracts for delivery in May have been as high as $3.19 per bushel, compared with $2.40 per bushel in the previous May.

Wheat plantings are expected to total 59.5 million acres, down four percent from 2003. Many wheat farmers also have been moving to soybeans, Nelson said. "When we compare $3.50 to $4 (per bushel) wheat to $10 beans, there's no dispute on that," he said.