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US Soybean Acreage to Shrink to a Four-Year Low, Gro Predicts

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US acres earmarked to soybeans will shrink to a four-year low this spring as growers plant more acres to corn and wheat, according to Gro’s Planting Intentions Models’ estimates. 

Gro’s US Planting Intentions Models for corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton, which generate acreage forecasts starting in February, provide users insight into expected planting mixes three to four weeks before the USDA’s Prospective Plantings report is released on March 31.

Another big drop in soybean acreage occurred in 2019, following extensive flooding in the Midwest, which contributed to a 15% drop in US soybean production from the five-year average at that time.

Heading into this year’s US planting season, growers are likely to forgo planting soybeans because commodity futures prices are signaling that planting corn and wheat will be more profitable. 

The chart above shows how the price ratio between soybeans, priced on the November 2023 contract, and corn, on the December 2023 contract, has ebbed and flowed well below the 20-year average for February. The year’s trend makes corn a more appealing crop to plant compared to soybeans.

At its current level, our Planting Intentions Model for Soybeans’ projected contraction in planted acres would further squeeze the US’ soybeans stocks-to-use level, a measure of available supplies, which is already at its tightest level since 2015/16, as shown by Gro’s US Soybean Monitor

However, Brazil’s expected record soybean crop, which is currently being harvested, could reduce the need for US soybean exports in the upcoming marketing year, helping to offset the strain on US supplies. Brazil’s bumper crop is also expected to offset losses from Argentina’s drought-stricken soybean area, as Gro wrote about here. Currently, Gro’s Brazil Soybean Yield Forecast Model is forecasting a double-digit year-over-year increase in Brazilian soybean production.

Gro’s Planting Intentions Models also forecast a big jump in corn acreage, as Gro wrote about here. Cotton planted area is forecast to shrink. Meanwhile, Gro’s spring wheat planting model shows a nominal increase year-over-year, which, combined with an 11% leap in winter wheat area, points to an overall jump in total wheat area.

Wheat production, though, is expected to suffer due to prolonged drought conditions in key growing states, according to Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture weighted to US winter wheat area. Soil moisture readings for wheat area are near the lowest levels since 2010. 

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