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Nebraska farmers expected to plant more soybeans, less corn this year
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Nebraska farmers expected to plant more soybeans, less corn this year

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Soy Bean Harvest

A farmer harvests soybeans near Bennington in September. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday forecast that Nebraska farmers will plant 6% more soybeans this year than last

Farmers are getting some help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.It will distribute $11.5 billion to support smaller farmers affected by the pandemic.The department also increased payments being made to cattle producers and farmers who grow crops, like corn and soybeans. 

Nebraska farmers are expected to plant less corn and more soybeans than they did last year.

The Prospective Plantings report released Wednesday by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service forecasts the state's farmers will plant 9.9 million acres of corn, about 3% less than in 2020.

But they will plant considerably more soybeans, with 5.5 million acres forecast, a 6% increase over last year.

Overall, the USDA is predicting Nebraska farmers will plant slightly more than 19.8 million acres of all crops, a tiny increase over the 19.78 million planted last year.

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While the U.S. as a whole is forecast to plant slightly more corn this year, the top-producing states are all forecast to see declines.

Iowa, the top corn-producing state, is expected to plant 3% fewer acres, while No. 2 state Illinois is forecast to have 4% fewer acres. Of the top five corn-producing states, four are forecast to see a planting decline and one, Minnesota, is projected to plant the same acreage as last year.

The prices for both corn and soybeans have been at multiyear highs recently, with corn hitting an eight-year high this month and soybeans hitting a seven-year high. A number of factors, including higher yields, more overseas buying and fewer crops in storage, have helped drive the increases.

Creighton University Economist Ernie Goss said that even though both crops have seen strong price gains over the past year, soybeans have increased more, so "it is not surprising to see shifting from corn to soybeans," he said.

Brad Lubben, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln agricultural economist, said he was a bit surprised by the forecast, as were the grain markets, which caused a spike in futures prices for both corn and soybeans on Wednesday.

New crop futures contracts for corn and soybeans settled at $4.77 and $12.56 per bushel respectively, a price spread that favors soybeans, Lubben said.

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 "The ratio of the two is 2.6, which is high enough to tend to favor a shift toward soybeans, which is what the Nebraska data suggest has already happened, at least in intentions," he said.

Cory Walters, an associate professor of agricultural economics at UNL, said that after a couple of rough years, the decision for many farmers may simply come down to how much investment they have to make in each crop.

It costs more than $770 an acre to plant corn and slightly less than $600 an acre to plant soybeans, he said.

"It's just cheaper to plant soybeans," Walters said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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