Survey Indicates More Soybean Acres

Drop in corn acres seen in 2008, due to the rise in production costs and because of crop rotation plans.

Farmers in Iowa and five other Midwest states who were surveyed late last month at the Iowa Power Farming Show plan to increase soybean acreage by 10% and reduce corn acreage by 5% in 2008, compared to what they planted last year.

Iowa farmers intend to boost soybean acreage by 12% and reduce corn acreage by 5% compared with 2007, according to the survey results which were released February 11. The Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association, which hosted the machinery show, and AgriSource Inc., a grain marketing, commodity brokerage and crop insurance company, conducted the survey.

More than 16,400 people attended the show held Jan. 29-31 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. Approximately 2,500 surveys were analyzed. The farmers surveyed were from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska. Over 2.2 million corn and soybean acres were included in the survey.

Estimates for U.S. are similar

In addition to the farm show survey, AgriSource conducted an acreage survey during the week of February 4 with its Midwest customer base. Based on the two surveys, AgriSource analysts expect U.S. soybean acreage to rise 11% and corn acreage to drop 5% in 2008, compared to 2007 plantings.

Keith Gehling, risk management specialist with AgriSource in West Des Moines, says the switch to soybeans is being caused by higher costs to grow corn than soybeans, and the recent rise in soybean prices relative to corn. Many farmers in the survey also said they wanted to go back to a 50-50 rotation in corn and soybean plantings after shifting some acres from soybeans to corn last year.

Larger farms tend to favor corn

The survey also shows farm operations in Iowa, of 500 acres or smaller, are shifting more to soybeans this year than larger farm operations are, says Gehling. "The most interesting finding in our acreage survey is that we are seeing a very large shift back to soybeans in the 500 acre and smaller category in Iowa," he notes.

The larger farming operations "have a lot of storage facilities for corn, and they don't want to leave those bins empty by going to beans," says Gehling. "Also, the larger operators aren't afraid to borrow money to finance the higher cash requirements for producing corn."

The survey also indicates more acres will be shifting to corn and soybeans from the Conservation Reserve Program or from land that was in oats, hay or pasture. "The high prices we have this year for corn and soybeans mean there won't be an acre of ground left unplanted," says Gehling. In recent weeks, soybean prices have been running 80% higher than a year ago. Corn prices are about 30% higher, according to Iowa State University Extension market news.

TAGS: Extension
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