• • • Ag Census: US Farmers Shift as Agronomics, Economics Favor Soybeans Over Corn, Wheat
Soybean acres have continued to grow at the expense of corn and wheat, a trend that’s likely to continue as agronomics and global economics point to increased planting of the oilseeds.
Harvested soybean acres in 2017 totaled 90.1 million, up from 76.1 million just five years earlier and only 63.9 million a decade prior, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Corn harvested area, meanwhile, fell to 84.7 million acres from 87.4 million five years earlier and was down from 86.2 million 10 years earlier, the USDA said in the report. All wheat acreage plunged 21% census to census to 38.8 million acres, the lowest since 1890, according to the government.
Improved economics stemming from improved agronomics are the reason soybean acres have grown considerably in the past decade, said Mike Zuzolo, the president of Global Commodity Analytics in Atchison, Kansas. “Roundup Ready 2 took us up a notch, but Xtend beans have taken us to another level,” he said. “If we were using Roundup Ready 2 and averaged 52 bushels, that was a good year. Now in central Illinois and Nebraska and Kansas, we have producers pushing 80-bushel yields.”