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Soybean Acres Up, Corn Down In This Year's Planting

Amy Mayer
Harvest Public Media

Farmers planted a record number of soybean acres this season. But corn is flat in several Midwestern states, while down slightly in others.

Those are some of the takeaways from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s report on planted grain acres for the season, which offers the first glimpse of production for 2014.

Overall, about 4 million fewer acres were planted in corn this year—down four percent from last year. But overall, many farmers are sticking with what has worked during a run of good years, according to Anthony Prillaman, of the USDA’s National Agricultural and Statistical Service.

“Definitely weather concerns, economic concerns, all of that goes into what the farmers end up deciding they’re going to plant,” Prillaman said.

Persistent drought conditions may have contributed to lower corn acres in Kansas, Colorado and the Dakotas, Prillaman said. In Illinois, Iowa and Indiana farmers planted roughly the same number of corn acres as last year. Nationally, this year’s planting is among the largest in decades, despite being the lowest since 2010.

The increase in soybean acres could be a response to a drop in corn prices over the past year, or an optimistic view of soybean prices. Prillaman says crop rotations affect the farmers’ decisions, too, but not as much as dollars.

“The biggest thing for soybeans this year was just the economics,” Prillaman said. “[That] is what was driving that increase we’re seeing in soybeans acres across the country.”

Farmers have planted 8 million more acres in soybeans than they did last year, which could lead to a record soybean harvest.

Of course, with nearly the entire summer stretching in front of us, it’s much too early to start talking harvest numbers.

Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR, is a collaborative public media project that reports on important agricultural issues in the Midwest. You can read more about the project on their website.

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