By DANIEL GRANT
BLOOMINGTON – Illinois appears well positioned to maintain its recent run as the top soybean producing state in the nation.
While soybean plantings fell more than 2 million acres short of expectations in USDA’s June 30 acreage report nationwide, the Ag Department raised soybean plantings by 200,000 acres in Illinois compared to the March estimate.
The current projections place Illinois plantings at 11.2 million acres of soybeans, up 600,000 from last year when it produced 672.6 million bushels – the most of any state in the nation. USDA estimates Illinois farmers planted 10.7 million acres of corn this season, down 300,000 from last year.
“If realized, it would be the first time since 1983 that soybean acres would be greater than corn acres in Illinois,” said Illinois state statistician Mark Schleusener.
It not only would buck a longtime state trend, but the acreage shift in Illinois was the opposite of the national trend. The U.S. soybean planting estimate declined 2.6 million acres from March to June to just 88.3 million acres. The national corn acreage estimate increased 400,000 acres to 89.9 million last month.
University of Illinois Extension ag economists Scott Irwin and Joe Janzen discussed the shift during a recent webinar hosted by farmdoc.
“With soybeans we had some delayed planting and less-than-ideal conditions this spring,” Irwin said. “When push came to shove, farmers in the U.S. faded toward corn and away from soybeans.
“Illinois stood out as increasing soybean acres (from the March intentions to the June planted acreage reports) as did Kentucky.”
Overall, the total of U.S. principal crop acreage decreased from 317.4 million in March to 316.3 million in June, which helps explain the soybean acreage decline outside of Illinois.
“It’s not that the acreage pie shrunk. We moved a bit more than 1 million acres from principal crops into prevented plant,” Irwin said. “That’s primarily in North Dakota and to a lesser extent South Dakota and Minnesota.”
Estimates suggest prevented plant acreage could grow from 4.2 million acres last year to 5.3 million nationwide this season. However, the first official data on prevented plant area won’t be available until August.
Meanwhile, after a spring buildup, crop prices continued a downward trend following the June 30 report and the Independence Day holiday.
“We’ve seen some of the high price action drop off,” Janzen said.
(This story was distributed through a cooperative project between Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Press Association. For more food and farming news, visit FarmWeekNow.com.)