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High Fertilizer Prices Drive US Farmers to Plant More Soy Than Corn

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In an environment of very high fertilizer prices, a USDA survey shows US farmers intend to plant more soybeans than corn in 2022. This marks only the second time in USDA record-keeping history that soybean acreage has topped corn, and increases pressure on already tight US corn inventories

The Prospective Plantings report, one of the agency’s most highly anticipated reports of the year, provides a first official look at 2022 acreage. US farmers intend to plant 91 million acres of soybeans, a 3.8 million-acre increase from last year, and 89.5 million acres of corn, down 3.9 million acres. 

The top producing “I” states of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana all saw a switch to more soybean acres year over year. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is adding fuel to already soaring fertilizer prices at a time when planting of major crops critical to global supplies is getting underway in the Northern Hemisphere. Fertilizer prices had already more than doubled over the past 18 months, hitting US farmers with sharply higher input costs as they prepare for the 2022 growing season. 

Soybeans require a fraction of the fertilizer needed by corn. That difference has driven farmers to plan for greater soybean area in 2022 than Gro’s Planting Intentions Model forecast in early March.

But low corn acres will place a heavy strain on US supplies in 2022/23. US corn stocks are at their second-lowest level in six years. And Black Sea export disruptions due to the Russia-Ukraine war have squeezed global grain supplies and driven prices higher. 

Corn growing areas in the US Plains and upper Midwest are facing persistent drought, which reduces the chances of attaining trendline yields in 2022. Gro users can monitor yield outlooks down to the county level with Gro’s Corn Yield Forecast Model once the growing season gets underway.

Gro’s US Hard Red Winter Wheat Yield Forecast Model and US Soybean Yield Forecast Model also offer in-season insights into those crops. 

Wheat prices have especially moved higher following the onset of the Russia-Ukraine war, and US farmers intend to plant the highest number of wheat acres since 2018. However, growers will be challenged to hang onto harvested wheat acres given the continuing drought in the US Plains

Winter wheat prices are trading near their highest levels in 14 years, and spring wheat is close to a 10-year high. Globally, wheat stocks of major exporting countries are at their lowest level in eight years.  

US barley acres also increased, by 11%, at a time when Black Sea exports of the grain are stalled. 

-Related Insights

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Driving Global Food Shocks

USDA Cuts Soy, Corn Ending Stocks, but Gro Predicts Deeper Reductions Are Needed

Supporting Global Food Security Amid Russia-Ukraine War

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Ignites Fertilizer Prices at Critical Time for World Crops


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