A new report from the Agriculture Department pegs the nation's planted soybean acreage at a record 84.8 million acres. But ultimately Mother Nature will determine how plentiful harvest will be for both soybean and corn farmers, says the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The estimate of soybean planted area is 8.3 million more acres than was planted in 2013. The increased in acreage planted compared to 2013 is led by the soybean "powerhouse states" of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota, which are each expected to plant between 600- and 850-thousand more acres this year.
If the USDA projections are realized, U.S. farmers will have planted a record number of soybean acres, exceeding the previous record by 7.4 million acres.
"This month's report reinforces forecasts that the soybean market is in transition," Todd Davis, crops economist at AFBF said. "The old-crop soybean market is managing tight stocks through higher prices while the market is waiting for a potential record-large new crop harvest," he said.
The report tallies U.S. corn planted acres at 91.6 million acres, 3.72 million fewer acres than in 2013. Farmers in the core production states of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana are expected to plant the same amount of corn this year as in 2013.
However, "Farmers outside the core corn production region responded to economic signals to plant other, more profitable crops this year, which is why the overall acreage estimate is lower," Davis said.
At this stage of production for both crops, much depends on the whims of Mother Nature.
"July is a critical time for corn production. Excessive heat stress or moisture stress can rob bushels, while August weather is crucial for soybean production," Davis said. "There is still a long way to go before combines start rolling this fall."