USDA’s most recent long-term Agricultural Projections through 2027, shows that soybean acres will surpass corn acres in 2019. According to MFB Field Crop Specialist Kate Thiel, the USDA projections factor in GDP growth, population growth, farm policy, and assumes normal weather patterns, adding that it also provides the first look at 2018 planting intentions.
“During 2017, the total planted area for the eight principal crops and conservation reserve program was 275.8 million acres,” Thiel said. “For 2018, USDA projects planted area to increase for all crops except upland cotton and wheat, with a total acreage gain of 1.8 million acres to 277.6 million acres.”
Long-term, USDA projects that planted area and CRP land will remain steady between 276 and 278 million acres – slightly lower than the 280-million-acre-average over the last decade all the way into 2027.
Soybean and corn acres are projected to increase by 793,000 acres and 571,000 acres, respectively, to 91 million acres each. If realized, 91 million acres would be a new record-high for soybean acreage.
Wheat acres are expected to decline for a fourth year in a row, down 1 million acres to 45 million acres – the lowest level since U.S. first began recording acreage data in 1919.
Thiel says while USDA projects acreage to increase slightly in 2018, the biggest takeaway is that USDA projects soybean acreage to top corn acreage beginning in 2019 and continuing through 2027.
“2018 soybean plantings are projected at 91 million acres, up 793,000 acres from 2017 or approximately 1 percent,” Thiel explained. “By 2019 however, soybean acres are projected at 91 million acres while corn acres are projected at 90 million acres. If realized, this would be the first market-driven acreage shift that resulted in more soybean acres planted than corn.”
A growing demand for soybeans, soybean oil and soybean meal from China are the primary drivers according to Thiel, but says a lot of uncertainty remains before planting decisions are ultimately made.
“Improvement in the global economy could increase demand for grains and oilseeds, pushing stocks lower than anticipated and pushing prices higher,” Thiel said. “Higher prices could result in acreage shifting into crops with a more profitable per acre return.”