Soybeans Officially Supplant Corn as Top Crop
As the spring 2018 season got underway, USDA projections were that soybean acreage would surpass corn in the U.S. for the year. Now, it’s official. According to the latest USDA numbers, U.S. growers have planted 89.6 million acres of soybeans this year vs. 89.1 million acres for corn.
King Corn is dead (for the time being)! Long live . . . what, exactly? Looking through my thesaurus, there are only a few options for “king” that feature the same “s” sound as soybeans. These include Supreme Soybeans, Sultan Soybeans, or Sovereign Soybeans.
Of course, the reign of soybeans as the top U.S. crop might not last very long. For the past several weeks, soybeans growers and the trade groups that represent them have pointed to the now in-place tariffs from key export partners such as China for depressing soybean prices. In fact, according to the latest figures from the Chicago Board of Trade, soybeans prices for November were down more than three cents per bushel, coming in at $8.80. This is a far cry from the almost $10 per bushel soybeans were trading at when the 2018 growing season was just getting underway back in late March.
If these pair of trends – low commodity prices and soft demand from Chinese soybean buyers – continue through the end of 2018, U.S. growers in 2019 are likely to return many of these soybean acres to other, more price stable crops such as corn and wheat. Furthermore, as China encourages its growers to plant more soybeans for consumption, the long-term outlook for U.S. soybean exports to the country could remain soft for years to come.
But in the meantime, if you happen to be driving around the nation’s midsection this summer, chances are you will find many more fields of soybeans than corn in your rear-view mirror.