The United States Department of Agriculture is projecting that farmers nationwide will plant more acres of soybeans this year than ever before.
The 6 percent increase over last year, which is about 81.5 million acres across the country, is due to two factors commonly considered in farming: finances and the weather.
“Price is what it boils down to,” said Kim Holsapple, grain manager for Total Grain Marketing in Effingham. “Soybean prices have been extremely high.”
With soybeans valued at around $12 a bushel compared to the $4.50 a bushel for corn, the projection is that farmers are going to plant the most valuable crop.
Holsapple said that demand is high for the oil and meal produced from the bean, which is consumed worldwide.
“China has a huge appetite for beans,” he said, saying they use the meal to feed their hogs.
Another contributing factor to the increase is the extended planting time beans offer compared to corn. Soybeans can be planted until late May, while optimal corn planting occurs from about April 20 to May 10.
“You have a larger planting window with beans,” said Holsapple. “You have to get corn in the ground earlier because of frost issues in the fall.”
According to Holsapple, recent rains may push back planting dates, which again put an emphasis on beans. He added that if beans are planted in a timely fashion, they can be harvested in late June and “double-plant beans” can be put in the ground.
“Down here in the southern part of the state, we can choose to plant corn or beans because we have more growing days,” he said.
According to the USDA, farmers across the country are planting 91.7 million acres of corn, which is the lowest level since 2010, but still the fifth largest crop since 1944.
Tony Huffman can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, at email@example.com or on Twitter @Ednthuffman.