Global demand for U.S. soybeans is on the grow and farmers in Missouri and throughout the country are responding. According to the 2011 Prospective Plantings report by USDA, U.S. farmers will plant 76.6 million acres of soybeans this year. While USDA estimates this year's soybean crop may be 1% lower than last year, if the numbers hold, the 2011 soybean crop could still be the third-largest planted area on record.
Missouri farmers intend to plant some 5.3 million acres of soybeans, which places it fifth among the top five states. Top acreage states are Iowa (9.4 million acres), Illinois (9.1), Minnesota (7.4), and Indiana (5.35), according to the American Soybean Association.
Missouri farmer Jason Bean, who chairs the United Soybean Board production research program, credits the soybean checkoff for doing a good job of keeping U.S. soybeans competitive in the market. "Checkoff dollars have provided research to ensure a good-quality U.S. soybean. If we have a desirable product, we'll be able to sustain and increase our demand," says Bean, who farms near Holcomb
Through work to increase market access and maintain demand for U.S. soy abroad, the checkoff helped U.S. soybean farmers post record-high exports for a fourth straight year last year. Domestically, the checkoff focuses on maintaining and creating demand by supporting U.S animal agriculture as well as funding production research to protect and increase U.S. soybean yields and research on new uses for soybeans.
"The checkoff's production research program has done a good job supporting research to increase yields for U.S. farmers so that we're improving their opportunity for profit growing soybeans," Bean notes. "Another thing we've worked on with production research is high-oleic soybeans. That's a very desirable soybean, and we've done a lot of work and put a lot of money into research to develop that soybean."
USDA's final 2010 estimates concluded that U.S. farmers planted 77.4 million acres of soybeans last year and harvested 76.6 million acres. Average yield per bushel in 2010 decreased slightly from 2009, with 2010 bringing in 43.5 bushels per acre.
Overall, farmers reported intentions of planting 323.8 million acres across the 21 major crops surveyed for this report, a 7.09 million (2.2%) increase from 2010. NASS surveyed approximately 85,000 farm operators across the U.S. from Feb. 26 to March 17, 2011.
Sources: American Soybean Association and United Soybean Board