Fundamentally Speaking
Joel Karlin DTN Contributing Analyst

Friday 10/19/12

U.S. Soybean Planting Trends

“Go west young man” the famous line uttered by American author Horace Greely exhorting young men to seek their fortunes in the then unexplored western U.S. appears to have been followed by soybean farmers.

There has also been a northern expansion as soybean seedings over the past 20 years has moved from the Eastern Corn Belt, Delta, and Southeast to the Western Corn Belt and Upper Midwest.

Similar to what we did with corn, the accompanying graphic shows the compounded annual percent change in soybean planted acreage for two 11 year time periods; 1991-2001 and 2002-2012 for the top 18 producing states.

This chart also has the average of each states soybean plantings as a percent of total U.S. planted acreage also for each of those two 11 year time periods.

For the 1991-2001 period, the compounded average annual soybean acreage increase for MI, was up 4.0% each year, NE at 6.4%, SD at 6.7%, WI at 9.8%, and topped by ND which in the 1990’s saw soybean acreage increase by a compounded rate of 11.7% each year, very similar to the large increase in corn planting seen over the same time period.

States that lost soybean acreage in the 1990’s included LA and MS.

Over the past ten years, the surge in soybean plantings in a number of states has quelled though LA and MS did bounce back.

ND continued to lead the surge, however, at an annual compounded rate of a 5.4% increase per year.

We note that some of the bigger states saw soybean planting decreases over the past ten seasons including the big I states of IL, IN, and IA.

The northward and westward expansion of soybean acreage in the U.S. is also represented by the percent of total U.S. soybean acreage that each of the top states had in the two different time periods.

The largest changes are in the two top producing states including IL which saw its share of U.S, soybean acreage fall from 15.0% in the 1991-2001 period to 12.8% from 2002-2012 and in IA whose share of planted area fell from 14.6% to 13.2%.

Meanwhile, the share of U.S. planted soybean acreage between the two time periods in KS went from 3.5% to 4.4%, from 5.1% to 6.4% in NE, 4.5% to 5.5%, SD from 4.5% to 5.5% with ND the leader as their soybean planted area now accounts for 4.9% of the U.S. total over the past ten years compared to a mere 1.6% from 1991 to 2001.

We suspect that two trends are at work here with the first being the rise in soybean prices and development of shorter season, but still good yielding varieties has led to increased acreage in the northern and western states that used to plant other crops such as hard red spring and durum wheat along with sorghum.

Secondly is the revenue advantage that corn has had vis-à-vis soybeans on a net return per acre basis that has contributed to increased continuous corn plantings in the core Midwest areas.


Posted at 8:27AM CDT 10/19/12
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