Ag Notes - April 08, 2020

Planting Corn and Soybean 2020



by Emerson Nafziger, ILLINOIS Extension Agronomist

March rainfall in Illinois ranged from normal to a couple of inches above normal, but the last week of March and first week of April have been relatively dry, and field operations are getting underway. The April 6 NASS report indicates that there were 3.1 days suitable for fieldwork in Illinois during the week ending on April 5, but no planting was recorded. As is often the case in early April, soils are wet over most of the state.

The 4-inch soil temperatures at 10 AM have been close to 50 degrees in southern Illinois, and over the past week they have increased from the low 40s to the mid–40s in central and northern Illinois. The forecast is for a return to cooler weather later this week, and possibly to wetter conditions as well. Such “yo-yoing” is normal for April, and it often brings up questions about what to do when the weather forecast is for conditions to deteriorate as planting approaches. Do we plant or do we wait?

There is no question that the ideal is for seed of both corn and soybean to be planted into soils that are relatively dry, and that are warm (and warming) enough to allow germination and emergence to get started quickly, and plants to grow steadily after emergence. The most recent example of the benefits of this was in 2018, when planting was delayed until May, then May weather was very warm, and the crops “never looked back” on their way to new yield records. In 2017, early corn planting was followed by a week of cool, wet weather, which led to a lot of replanting. The replanted crop often yielded more than the first crop, almost certainly because it had warmer conditions under which to germinate and begin to grow.

Having soils stay dry after early planting into cool soils is much better than having them turn wet: the germination process is very slow at low temperatures, so seeds will bide their time until soils warm up, and dry soils are a safer place to do that. If it turns wet, seeds will last longer in cool soils than in warm ones, both because low temperatures delay the germination process (and the demand for oxygen), and because colder water contains more oxygen than warmer water. Still, seeds that spend a week or more in wet soils at temperatures in the low 40s are subject to “imbibitional chilling injury” that can mean abnormal growth and poor emergence even if seeds survive. This is considered more of a problem in corn than in soybean, in part because more soybean seeds than corn seeds tend to die under such conditions and so don’t show those symptoms.

Planting date
Now that we’ve passed the first week of April, plantings of this year’s corn or soybean crops from now on can’t be considered “very early”, but the message from some agronomists about the need to plant soybeans as early as March continues, and more producers are choosing to begin planting soybeans before they begin planting corn. With planting date responses for the two crops essentially identical on a percentage basis, which crop to start with is more or less a tossup. The deciding factor in that case should often be which fields are ready first. Fields where soybeans grew last year will often be in good shape to plant earlier than those where corn grew, and that may mean planting some corn first. It certainly makes little sense to plant soybeans when it’s too wet just to plant them earlier than corn.

I have mentioned before the possibility that soybeans planted very early—in March or early April—might occasionally yield less than those planted in late April or early May. I dug up some data from a study that we did back in 2001–2003 in which we started planting as soon as we could (without planting in mud) using different seeding rates and varieties with different maturities. Figure 1 shows yields from this study, with planting date averaged over sites. Yields were not as high as we’d expect today, but the earliest planting yielded the least of all the planting dates. This was not due to low stands, with the exception of the Urbana site in 2001, when it froze (temperatures in the upper 20s) just as the crop was emerging, and about half of the plants from the first planting date were killed. We had five sites in southern Illinois, where average yields were even lower, but the earliest planting there (average of April 15) yielded less than either the early May or late May planting.


Figure 1. Soybean planting date responses over nine trials in central/northern Illinois, 2001–2003.

While changes in seed quality, spring weather, and perhaps genetics have lowered the threat of such losses from very early planting, we can’t rule out the possibility that planting soybeans in March or early April may not always maximize yield. That’s not necessarily because of stand loss from frost or wet soils. Frost can typically kill soybean plants only in a one- or two-day window as the plants are breaking through the soil surface. Frost that occurs after the first two leaves unroll can kill the growing point, but then buds will break and form (usually two) new stems. Most low stands in soybeans follow heavy rainfall soon after planting, and chances of that happening are not closely tied to when the crop is planted. Instead, the evidence is that low temperature stress during early growth may limit node and seed number per plant, therefore limiting yield potential. The fact that the earliest planting in northern Illinois responded so much to seeding rate reflects the fact that these plants did not have as many seeds as those planted later.

One of the incentives to plant soybeans very early is that some seed companies provide free replant seed. I do not know if “free” includes the cost of seed treatments (for replant seed) that are commonly applied to soybean seed at the point of sale. Soybean seed meant for early planting is often treated with several plant protectants, including ILeVO® for decreasing the incidence of SDS. That disease is generally considered more likely to be a problem when soybeans are planted into cold soils.

The debate among agronomists regarding the merits of planting soybeans in March or early April—before the start of corn planting—is still alive, but focusing on “corn versus soybean” as if it’s a contest mostly misses the point. Both corn and soybean benefit from early planting most of the time, and both face similar risks when conditions deteriorate after we plant early. We shouldn’t decide when to start planting or which crop gets priority based on how “tough” each crop is or on trying to prove someone wrong. The goal instead is to minimize risk and to maximize yield potential. The 2019 growing season was such that that penalty from late planting was relatively less for soybeans than for corn. That doesn’t mean that corn should get first planting priority this year. Both crops should get priority, with actual planting order determined by factors such as logistics, how fast fields dry, and crop insurance.

Recent research on how both corn and soybeans respond to planting date in Illinois is summarized below in Figure 2. I’ve shown both lines on the same figure before, but here I’m including the actual data for both crops along with the curves in order to show how variability changes as planting is delayed. While we did not try to plant soybeans before mid-April in this study, note that hardly any of the April soybean plantings produced less than maximum yields in these trials. With mid-April plantings yielding the same as late-April plantings, it seems unlikely that yields from planting in March would have been higher than those from planting in April.


Figure 2. Corn and soybean planting date responses in Illinois trials. Each trial included four planting dates, and yields were converted to percent of the maximum yield in that trial.

Unlike soybean, the earliest planting dates for corn did not consistently produce the highest yields in the trials shown in Figure 2. This was not due to poor stands or frost damage, but was the result of growing conditions later in the season, and was more common when yields levels were lower. It’s difficult to untangle what happened in each of these, but in a few cases the early-planted crop experienced cool temperatures in May that might have lowered yield potential. The growing season was relatively dry in some of these sites as well, and small differences in rainfall timing could have favored the crop that was planted a little later. We added an additional planting date in mid-March in the very dry spring of 2012, and lost about half of the stand to frost during the second week of April.

Planting depth
Recent developments in automated depth and down-pressure controls on planters have brought new attention to the issues of planting depth and seed placement. While research done over a few sites often identifies a “best” depth, such results don’t very well predict what the best depth will be in a given field the next time. We can guess the best planting depth about as well as we can guess the weather, although the depth decision is easier in some soils than in others. Most studies include planting both too shallow and too deep, with a few depths in the middle, and results typically show, to no one’s surprise, that it is better to avoid planting too shallow or too deep.

An additional feature available on some planters is a sensor for soil moisture coupled with the ability to vary planting depth based on where in the soil there’s enough moisture to get germination started. This has potential for dry areas where soil moisture frequently is low during the planting season. But I think we need to be cautious with this in the eastern Corn Belt, where soils are heavier and where heavy rainfall after planting and before emergence is a much serious threat to stand establishment than dry soil at planting. Planting deeper means that emergence almost always takes longer, and that means more chances of having problems related to wet soils and surface compaction (crusting) as soils dry out after they get wet. In practice, I think this means that planting 3 inches deep or deeper in most Illinois soils (sandy soil is an exception), even if that’s where soil moisture is adequate, has a better chance of lowering stand counts than it does of increasing them. Most corn seed has the ability to emerge from 3 inches deep if soil conditions are good, but when soil conditions deteriorate after planting, those three inches can turn onto an obstacle course for seedlings. That can compromise stands and stand uniformity, both of which are needed for getting the highest yields.

Today’s planters do a good job of pressing soil against seeds for the sides and above, resulting in good seed-soil contact without compacting the soil above the seed. Good seed-soil contact forms a conduit by which water can move through the soil into the seed as germination begins. That effectively enlarges the soil volume from which seeds can draw water, which means that even soils with lower moisture content often have enough water to allow germination, especially in silt loam and silty clay loam soils without clods. Clods form when soil that was tilled when it was wet dries out. With less tillage and less time between tillage and planting today, soils often do not to dry out very much before planting. As a result, uneven stands due to uneven soil moisture is relatively rare in most Illinois fields. Those who can’t remember when they last saw uneven stands due to uneven soil moisture at planting—that is, times when some seeds had to wait for rain before they emerged—might have reason to question the advisability of having soil moisture determine how deep seeds are planted.

So where, between too shallow (let’s say one inch) and too deep (3 inches in most soils) should we plant? Soybeans planted in the first half of April with soil temperatures (2 inches deep measured at 7 or 8 AM) less than 50 should probably be planted 1.25 to 1.5 inches deep, and corn at least 1.5 inches deep. When planting into warmer soils later in April or in May, 1.5 inches is good for soybeans and 1.75 inches for corn. Manually changing planting depth on a 24-row planter is good exercise, but may not always be worth the time it takes. As long as we’re planting between 1.5 and 2 inches deep, it’s not clear that trying to fine-tune depth based on current and future soil conditions has much potential to improve stands.

Especially when planters move at speeds of 6 mph or faster and when the soil surface is not very smooth, some seeds end up shallower and some deeper than the nominal setting. Equipment and seed companies have looked at the effect of planting depth on stands and yields, and have in some cases managed to produce large yield differences by employing “mistake” settings. Measuring the uniformity of seeding depth by digging up seeds is difficult, but high-speed cameras can estimate depth as seeds drop and settle in place. One study done by digging up corn roots at maturity reported a standard deviation of about an eighth of an inch, which would mean that about 5 percent of seeds would be at least a quarter of an inch shallower or deeper than the average. That’s probably acceptable at normal planing depths. More weight and more uniform down-pressure have improved planting depth uniformity, and if 75 percent or more of plants emerge over a period of about 15 growing degree days (24 hours at average temperature, longer than that if it’s cool) and the rest within one more day, it’s unlikely that any yield has been lost due to non-uniformity of planting depth.

Uniformity of distance between seeds is good enough to maximize yield potential in most fields, and needs no further mention. Despite what yield contest winners say they do, there is no reason for most people to plant slower than they do now. If the monitor says enough seeds are being dropped, and either the monitor or previous experience (by seeing how stands look after emergence) say they’re spaced uniformly enough, they probably are.

Seeding rate
Most people have decreased the number of soybean seeds dropped per acre over the past decade or so, but seed quality has also improved, and so the number of plants needed to maximize yield has probably not decreased as much as the seeding rate. We know that seeding rate responses are highly variable: in a series of 25 seeding rate studies in Illinois between 2015 and 2018, we found that the stand (not seed) numbers needed to maximum dollar return to seed ranged from 50 to 200 thousand, and there was no correlation between yield and plant stand needed to produce that yield. That means that the best way to set seeding rates is to average over seeding rate trials to get a best-guess prediction.

Averaged over the 25 responses, the plant stand needed to maximize the net return to seed was about 107,000 plants. At 80% stand establishment, that would require planting 134,000 seeds per acre. While that seems like a reasonable seeding rate, the “best” seeding rate was higher than that in about half of the trials and less than that in the others. Responses were fairly flat in most of the trials, though, which says that moving around within a range of 125,000 to 145,000 seeds per acre won’t miss the mark by much. If you expect emergence to be higher than 80%, seeding rates can be decreased. If you’ve gotten good yields planting only 100,000 or 110,000 seeds in the past, feel free to do that again. Keep in mind, though, that yield responses to seeding rate may not be very visible. So while 100,000 seeds might produce a good yield of 75 bushels, using 130,000 seeds might increase that by 2 bushels, which won’t look like much but would increase profits by $12–13 per acre.

The response of corn to plant population is much more consistent that for soybeans. Figure 3 below shows the response to corn plant population over 44 trials in Illinois between 2012 and 2018. Each trial included four to six hybrids, with planted populations ranging from 18,000 to 50,000 per acre. Final stand closely matched seeding rate, so they’re used interchangeably. The average yield at the 100% (of maximum) yield level was 237 bushels per acre. We used a wide range of seeding rates in order to produce visible responses, even though we know that this range extends far outside the range that producers might consider. Yields at 48–50,000 plants were lower than those at 34–36,000. So what we chose as the high end of the range ending up “bending” the curve, which changed where it reaches a maximum. The curve fitted to yields from the populations up to and including 42,000 shows that the maximum yield was produced at 36,900 plants per acre, and the optimum population—where the last seeds added were paid for by the increase in yield—was 33,400 plants per acre.


Figure 3. Corn plant population response over 44 trials in Illinois, 2012–2018.

It’s also worth noting that, although we find best returns from plant populations in the 32,000 to 35,000 per acre, having them a few thousand higher or lower is not going to change yields or net returns by very much. Yield level doesn’t make much difference: yields in 2012 were about 50 bushels lower than in the highest-yielding years of this study, but the population response was about the same as in other years. Going up to 40,000 isn’t very likely to increase yields, but it won’t increase costs much, either, so it won’t do much harm in productive soils. Marlin Jeschke of Pioneer recently reported that harvest populations for non-irrigated entries in the NCGA Corn Yield Contest over the past five years was 36,700, so it’s clear that current hybrids don’t don’t require unusually high populations to produce high yields.

If planting is delayed in 2020
Should management of corn or soybean change if planting is delayed in 2020 like it was in 2019? We’re certainly hoping that any delays are not on the scale that we saw in 2019, but we did not see many signs last year of things we should change if planting is late in 2020. That may have been because of good weather and good yields even after the late planting. About the only thing we might want to consider if corn planting is delayed into June is to move to earlier–maturing hybrids in the northern part of Illinois. Hybrid strip trials planted in that region in early June last year showed lower yield for hybrids later than 107–108 days RM. We did not see this with late-planted soybeans there, nor for either corn or soybeans in central and southern Illinois.

Ag Notes - March 30, 2020

Crude Oil Makes New Low, Ethanol Tumbles & is Corn too High

That new #crudeoil low is not good for #ethanol or #corn. I did two interviews on this at the end of last week. One with Eric Mosbey during Commodity Week and one with Geoff Cooper from @EthanolRFA @ScottIrwinUI & @jt_hubbs wrote an @farmdocDaily article, too.


The price of crude oil has reached a new contract low below $20 a barrel.

The ethanol industry is struggling under the weight of #COVID19 and the crude oil price war. I spoke with Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association about the situation. He says with crude in the $20s, corn is too high priced for ethanol production.



The estimated reductions in #ethanol use are 143 million gallons in March, 391 mln in April, and 207 mln in May, for a total reduction of 741 million gallons or 256 mln bushels of read-reduction-estimate-with-caution #corn write @ScottIrwinUI & @jt_hubbs.

link to @farmdocDaily article

Lincolnland Agri-Energy’s Eric Mosbey explains how #COVID19 and the low price of #crudeoil is affecting #ethanol plants like the one he runs. He also discusses what it means for #corn and feed coproducts.

Ag Notes - March 30, 2020

Trump Extends COVID-19 Guidelines

President Trump Sunday extended the 15 days social distancing #COVID19 guidelines until the end of April. He made the announcement during a Rose Garden Coronavirus Task Force press conference.


Mr. Trump went on later in the press conference to say he, at this point, would not consider relaxing the guidelines for different regions sometime in April. The President mentioned parts of the corn belt as an example during this exchange. 

Here is a link to the federal COVID-19 guidelines.

Ag Notes - March 11, 2020

Profitability & IL Corn/Soybean Acreage Shifts

by Gary Schnitkey, ILLINOIS Extension
link to farmdocdaily article

At its recent Agricultural Outlook Forum, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released estimates of 2020 planted acres in the United States, with both corn and soybean acres increasing from 2019 levels (see Grain and Oilseed Outlook, February 21, 2020). When compared to 2018 plantings, USDA is projecting a 2020 shift to more corn acres and fewer soybean acres across the United States. Projecting this shift across the U.S. seems reasonable. However, most of those shifts likely will occur outside of the corn belt. Estimated 2020 profitability in Illinois suggests relatively even acres of corn and soybeans in Illinois.


A University of Illinois agricultural economist says corn is likely to be more profitable than soybeans this year across the state. However, as Todd Gleason reports, historical relationships do not suggest large acreage shifts in the state.

Projected Acreage Shifts in the U.S. For corn and soybeans, USDA is projecting higher acreages in 2020, partly because 2019 acres were reduced because of prevented plantings (see Figure 1). Corn acres are expected to increase 4 million acres from 90 million acres in 2019 to 94 million acres in 2020. Soybean acres are projected to increase by 9 million acres from 76 million in 2019 to 85 million in 2020. Wheat acres are projected to remain the same in 2019 and 2020 at 45 million acres.



Given the prevalence of prevented planting acres in 2019, comparing acreage shifts from 2018 to 2020 provide a better illustration of recent trade difficulties impacts on expected acreage. These trade difficulties lowered soybean prices while corn prices remained roughly the same. National Market Year Average (MYA) prices for soybeans reported by the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) were $9.47 per bushel in 2016 and $9.33 per bushel in 2017, the two years immediately preceding trade difficulties. Soybean prices are not projected to average above $9.00 from 2018 through 2020: $8.66 per bushel in 2018, a projected $8.70 in 2019, and a projected $8.80 in 2020.

While soybean prices decreased, corn prices increased. MYA prices for corn were $3.36 per bushel in both 2016 and 2017. MYA price averaged $3.55 in 2018 and are projected at $3.80 in 2019 and $3.60 in 2020. These price changes caused corn returns to increase relative to soybean, leading to incentives to plant more corn acres. Between 2018 and 2020, corn acres are projected to grow 5 million from 89 million in 2018 to 94 million in 2020. Soybean acres are projected to decrease 4 million from 89 million acres in 2018 to 85 million acres in 2020.

Illinois Corn and Soybean Acres Because of prevented plantings, both corn and soybean plantings in Illinois were down in 2019 from 2018 levels. Corn plantings were 10.5 million acres in 2019, down from 11.0 million in 2018. Soybean planted were 10.0 million acres in 2019, down from 10.8 million acres in 2018.

Except for 2019, total acres in corn and soybeans in Illinois have remained about the same since 1990 at about 21.7 million acres. Prevented plant acres reduced this total in 2019 by 1.2 million acres. While total acres in corn and soybeans have remained the same, shifts in corn and soybean acres have occurred over time.

From 1998 to 2003, corn and soybean acres were relatively near one another, with corn acres exceeding soybean acres by less than 1 million acres (see Figure 2). During the 2007–2014 period, corn use in ethanol increased, resulting in higher corn prices relative to soybean prices, increasing the profitability of corn relative to soybeans, leading to more corn acres and fewer soybean acres. From 2007 to 2012, corn acres exceeded soybean acres by at least 2.0 million acres, with the largest difference of 4.9 million acres occurring in 2007. The build of ethanol capacity ended in the mid–2010s, while Chinese demand for soybeans continued to grow until 2018. Corn profitability fell relative to soybeans, and farmers switched acres from corn to soybeans. In 2018, 11.0 million corn acres were planted in Illinois, only 200,000 acres more than 10.8 million acres of soybean plantings. In 2019, corn acres were 10.5 million, 500,000 more than the 10.0 million of soybean planting. USDA has not projected state levels of corn and soybean production for 2020.



Profitability of Corn and Soybean in Illinois Historical shifts in corn and soybean acres in Illinois have been related to the relative profitability of corn and soybeans. Figure 3 shows corn returns minus soybean returns from Central Illinois farms having high-productivity farmland enrolled in Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM). Positive values indicate that corn was more profitable than soybeans. Conversely, negative values indicate that soybeans are more profitable than corn.



From 2000 to 2002, corn and soybean returns were roughly the same (see Figure 3). Corn-minus-soybean returns were $30 per acre in 2000, $13 in 2001, and -$6 in 2002. During this period, corn and soybean acres were relatively near one another.

From 2003 to 2012, corn returns exceeded soybean returns in all years, except 2009 (see Figure 3). Corn returns were over $50 higher than soybean returns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2012. During this period, corn acres in Illinois grew while soybean acres declined.

From 2013 to 2018, soybeans were more profitable than corn (see Figure 3). Soybean returns exceeded corn returns by more than $50 per acre in 2016, 2017, and 2018. During these years, farmers switched acres back to soybeans.

In 2019, corn was more profitable than soybeans by $34 per acre. Responses to 2019 profitability differences are somewhat clouded because of late and prevented planting. Both corn and soybean acres were down in 2019. In a late planting year, one expects soybean acres to increase relative to corn acres because soybeans traditionally have lower yield declines than corn in a late planting year. In 2019, corn acres may have declined more had not there been expectations of higher corn prices in June.

In 2020, corn is projected to be $21 per acre higher than soybeans. This difference between corn and soybean profitability is not large, suggesting that large acreage shifts will not occur. The $20 per acre projected difference in 2020 is roughly the same as realized differences from 2000 to 2002. During those years, corn acres exceeded soybean acres by only a small margin. Given 21.7 million acres of corn and soybean plantings in Illinois, having 11.0 million acres of corn and 10.7 acres of soybeans seems reasonable.

Summary At this point, corn is projected to be more profitable than soybeans in Illinois. However, historical relationships do not suggest large acreage shifts in Illinois. Corn and soybean acres in Illinois likely will be near one another. Major shifts in acres to corn from soybeans across the United States likely will come from outside the corn belt.

References U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Grains and Oilseeds Outlook.” Agricultural Outlook Forum 2020. Released February 21, 2020. https://www.usda.gov/oce/forum/2020/outlooks/Grains_and_Oilseeds.pdf

Ag Notes - March 09, 2020

The Pace of Soybean Use

by Todd Hubbs, Agricultural Economist - ILLINOIS Extension
Iink to farmdocdaily article

USDA’s soybean ending stocks forecast of 425 million bushels for the marketing year may show little if any change in the upcoming WASDE report. Despite the recent strength in soybean crush, the current focus is squarely on the impacts of the coronavirus and the implications for both crush and exports as the disease continues to evolve.


University of Illinois ag economist Todd Hubbs discusses the impact coronavirus is and may have on the use of soybeans across the planet.

Soybean crush in January saw a record total for the month of 188.78 million bushels. Thus far this marketing year, crush set monthly records in October, December, and January. Even with those monthly records, the crush pace during the first five months of the marketing year, at 897 million bushels, equaled last year’s pace. The USDA’s current projection for crush indicates a 13 million bushel increase over last year. To reach the crush forecast, crush needs to total 1.2075 billion bushels over the remainder of the marketing year. Soybean crush at that level comes in higher than last year’s 1.194 billion bushel total over the same period. The recent strength in crush led many market observers to raise the prospects for soybean crush totals. The implementation of higher export taxes on soybean products in Argentina helped to bolster this narrative. While soybean crush may see an increase in marketing year use, the prospect of coronavirus issues hurting meat demand may limit the upside potential later in 2020.

Soybean meal prices in Decatur rallied from the low $290 per ton range in early February to settle near $305 last week, which coincides with the marketing year average price put forth in the February WASDE report. The forecast for domestic soybean meal use sits at 36.8 million short tons, up 708 million tons over last year. Plentiful livestock on feed supports strong domestic soybean meal use this marketing year. However, the spread of the coronavirus around the world may put a damper on meat consumption. The prospect of lower meat consumption in the U.S. remains a serious concern. At 13.2 million short tons, the forecast for soybean meal exports came in 354 million tons lower than last year. Soybean meal exports weakened significantly in January and put the pace of exports through January seven percent behind last year’s export total at 4.576 billion short tons. Total commitments through February 27 sit a little over six percent behind last year’s pace. If the expansion of export tariffs on soybean meal in Argentina impact exports, the pace of meal exports could increase.

Soybean oil prices in Decatur fell back to levels seen last September in recent weeks at between 28 and 30 cents per pound. Vegetable oil prices remain under pressure from the impacts of coronavirus spreading around the world. As Chinese crushers come back online, an expectation of growth in world soybean oil stocks over the short term seems a forgone conclusion. Weaker biodiesel production led to a decrease of 300 million pounds in the February WASDE report to 8.2 billion pounds. Through December, the EIA biodiesel production report put soybean oil use at 1.625 billion pounds, down 545 million pounds from the first quarter last year. Biodiesel production from soybean oil needs to increase by fifteen percent over last year for the remainder of the marketing year to hit the USDA’s forecast. Soybean oil exports continue to exhibit strength and provide a counterbalance to relatively weak domestic demand. At 1.9 billion pounds, the USDA’s forecast for soybean exports seems well within reach this marketing year. Census Bureau soybean oil exports through January came in at 809 million pounds. To reach the projection, soybean oil exports need to total 1.09 billion pounds over the rest of the marketing year, 110 million pounds less than the total over the same period last year and hints at an increase to the forecast for soybean oil exports this marketing year in the next WASDE report.

The large Brazilian soybean crop and the potential for expanded Chinese buying continue to be the main factors shaping the potential for soybean exports. USDA projections for soybean exports total 1.825 billion bushels. Estimates of soybean exports from the Census Bureau are available through January. Soybean exports came in at 1.02 billion bushels. As of March 5, cumulative export inspections for the current marketing year totaled 1.107 billion bushels. By using the relationship between Census Bureau data and export inspections, soybean exports total 1.153 billion bushels for the marketing year. Soybean exports need to equal 672 million bushels, approximately 26.3 million bushels per week, during the remainder of the marketing year to reach the USDA forecast. Over the last four weeks, export inspections averaged 26.1 million bushels per week.

A Brazilian crop near 4.6 billion bushels looks in the offing this year. A large crop in combination with a Brazilian real that depreciated almost fifteen percent against the dollar since the turn of the year promise competition from Brazilian soybeans in 2020. Chinese buying of U.S. soybeans remains the key to hitting export projections. For now, Chinese total commitments (export sales and accumulated exports) through February 27 sit at 449 million bushels, up from 344 million bushels over the same period last year. Census Bureau data through January showed soybean exports to China at 431 million bushels thus far this marketing year. The small growth in exports since January highlights the low level of buying from China since the onset of the coronavirus. The recent exemptions on U.S. soybean tariffs granted for some crushers in China provide support to the notion of China attempting to meet its commitments to the Phase 1 trade deal.

Uncertainty about the impacts of coronavirus looks to set market expectations over the near term. Soybean prices will reflect this uncertainty. Volatility appears set to remain high and developments in soybean product export markets seem destined to determine ending stocks this year.

Ag Notes - March 03, 2020

2020 All Day Ag Outlook

 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Beef House
16501 Indiana 63
Covington, Indiana 47932

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The Future of Agriculture
        • Steve Maulberger, Vice President Crop Risk Services, Inc.

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Cash Grain Panel
        • Matt Bennett, AgMarket.net
        • Aaron Curtis, MID-CO Commodities
        • Brian Stark, The Andersons
        • Chuck Shelby, Risk Management Commodities

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Global Weather
        • Eric Snodgrass, Nutrien Ag Solutions

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Soybean Panel
        • Dave Chatterton, Strategic Farm Marketing
        • Merrill Crowley, Midwest Market Solutions
        • Ellen Dearden, AgReview
        • Chip Nellinger, Blue Reef Agri-Marketing

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USDA Reports
        • Lance Honig, USDA NASS Chief of the Crops Branch

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ARC/PLC, MFP, & SCO & Crop Insurance
        • Gary Schnitkey, ILLINOIS Extension

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Corn Panel
        • Curt Kimmel, Bates Commodities
        • Wayne Nelson, L&M Commodities
        • Mike Zuzolo, Global Commodity Analytics & Consulting
        • Jacquie Voeks, Total Farm Marketing by Stewart Peterson
        • Dan Zwicker, Zwicker Consulting

Ag Notes - February 05, 2020

Ground for Sale Marketing Tool

David Doctor came to the 2020 Organic Grains Conference in Champaign, Illinois to sell 191 acres of farmland.

Ag Notes - January 22, 2020

Gary Schnitkey on the ARC/PLC Decision

Farmers will be making two government program decisions on or before March 15th. What to do about crop insurance is one of them. The other is to enroll in the updated farm safety net programs.


The 2018 Farm Bill included some changes that require farmer to do a couple of things. First, they'll want to update their yields with FSA, if and only if the current set is higher than those already on record. Second, a decision must be made about which farm safety net to use for the crop harvest last year, and the one that will be harvested this year. Gary Schnitkey from the University of Illinois has some advice, "If you have a farm that is complete Prevent Plant, I think you are going to want to do ARC-IC. One FSA farm. If they are yielding at all, you'll probably lean to PLC for corn, ARC-CO for soybeans and PLC for wheat".

You may learn more about ARC-IC on the farmdoc website. ILLINOIS has developed a set of tools farmers can use to help them make the best possible ARC/PLC decision no matter where they live. It includes, says Schnitkey, a calculator that runs on a super-computer, "The calculators are online. The Gardner ARC/PLC tool will allow you to look at the probabilities of these things making payments. Again, corn is not likely to make payments in 2019. Soybeans similarly. Wheat will make a PLC payment for 2019. So, you can look at the Gardner ARC County / PLC calculator for that. There is a 2018 Farm Bill Tool that is a Microsoft Excel speadsheet and you can use that to look at different prices and yields to see what ARC-County, ARC-IC, and PLC will do in those situations".

The ARC/PLC safety net decision is due to be made at the Farm Service Agency office by March 15th. The ARC/PLC calculators are online at https://farmdoc.illinois.edu/2018-farm-bill.

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