A smaller corn harvest could lift already elevated U.S. grain prices, keeping livestock feed costs up and raising the prospect of ongoing meat inflation. Farmers are making planting decisions as they face higher costs for everything from fertilizer to seeds, cutting into any profit from last year’s soaring crop prices.
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Following quite a while of surging fertilizer costs, America’s biggest crop is set to be unseated by soybeans with regards to planting size. The less chemically-reliant legume will enlarge acreage by 5.9% this year, while corn recoils 3.2%, as per another Farm Futures study. Soybeans are resembling a “safe bet” for many growers versus corn, Farm Futures analyst Jacqueline Holland said, refering to the survey’s discoveries on producer’s impending fertilizer plans.
The first official government planting estimates are due March 31. If the latest survey is correct, this year will mark “only the second time in U.S. history more soybeans than corn will be planted,” Farm Futures analyst Jacqueline Holland said.
The bigger plantings also could put soybeans on track for their biggest U.S. harvest ever, rising to 4.7 billion bushels, according to Holland.
While bigger supply would open the door to lower prices, the extra availability could renew global interest in U.S. soybeans, Holland said. That interest has suffered this year on the heels of a strong Brazilian crop and easing import demand from China, she said.
Corn, even with almost 3 million fewer acres, could still post its third-biggest crop on U.S. record at 14.9 billion bushels, Holland said.
Most farmers polled, or about 93%, said they expect high farm input costs to cut profit this year compared to 2021, according to the emailed survey of 613 farmers taken from Dec. 3-20.