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USDA's Prospective Plantings report gives a big surprise with record soybean acres

Frayne Olson, NDSU Extension Crop Marketing Specialist, said soybean acres were shifted nearly one to one from corn.

Rows of young soybeans catch sunlight.
U.S. farmers are expected to plant a record number of acres to soybeans in 2022.
Erin Ehnle Brown / Grand Vale Creative LLC
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Quarterly Stocks Report and Prospective Plantings Reports were friendly for corn and wheat and bearish for soybeans. The big surprise was soybean acres, which came in at a record 91 million acres, up 3.8 million acres from last year. Planted acreage was steady to higher in 24 of the 29 estimating states.

Farmers intend to plant 89.5 million acres of corn, down 4% or 3.87 million acres from 2021. Planted acreage is expected to be down or unchanged in 43 of the 48 estimating states.

Frayne Olson, NDSU Extension Crop Marketing Specialist, said soybean acres were shifted nearly one to one from corn.

“This is only the second time in history soybean acreage intentions eclipsed corn,” he said.

“Farmers likely planted especially less corn on corn acres with the high fertilizer prices,” said Randy Martinson with Martinson Ag Risk Management.

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Olson and Martinson agree corn prices will have to move higher to buy back some acres from soybeans, even though the current corn-to-soybean ratio already favors corn.

All wheat acres were estimated at 47.4 million acres, up 1% or nearly 700,000 acres from last year. Winter wheat comprised 34.2 million acres, which is up 2% from last year. Of this total, 23.7 million are hard red winter wheat, 6.89 million are soft red winter wheat and 3.62 million are white wheat. Acreage of other spring wheat is pegged at 11.2 million acres, which is down 2%. Of that total, nearly 10.5 million acres are hard red spring wheat, and durum was at 1.92 million, up 17% from the previous year.

Martinson said the spring wheat acreage did not surprise him.

“During my winter meetings I informally surveyed farmers and they said spring wheat prices were not high enough to incentivize them to plant spring wheat,” he said.

Olson said spring wheat was in competition with many of the minor crops which all had very profitable prices, such as sunflowers, barley, lentils and edible beans.

Soybeans stocks on March 1, 2022, totaled 1.93 billion bushels, up 24% or 370 million bushels from March 1, 2021. Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at 750 million bushels, up 26% from 2021. Off-farm stocks, at 1.18 billion bushels, are up 22% from last March.

Olson said the higher stocks were a function of when the surveys were taken.

“These will have to be adjusted lower in the next report to take into account the recent pick up in soybean export demand, especially from China.” he explained.

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All wheat stored in all positions on March 1, 2022, totaled 1.02 billion bushels, down 290 million bushels from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 174 million bushels, down 39% from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 850 million bushels, are down 17% from a year ago.

Corn stocks totaled 7.85 billion bushels, up just 16 million bushels from March 1, 2021. Of the total stocks, 4.08 billion bushels were stored on farms, up 1% from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 3.77 billion bushels, are up 3% from a year ago.

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