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Iowa maintains No. 2 spot in soybean production

Article cover photo
ISA Board Treasurer and farmer Dave Walton says another strong yield for Iowa soybean producers proves that the United States is a reliable supplier. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Bethany Baratta, ISA senior writer

The crop report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Board (NASS) released today shows that Iowa farmers harvested 501.6 million bushels of soybeans in 2019. That was down from the 550.48 million bushels raised in 2018. Illinois holds the top spot at 532.44 million bushels.

Iowa soybean production averaged 55 bushels per acre, down 1 bushel per acre from 2018, the report said.

“From an agronomic standpoint, it was a challenging year to grow soybeans,” said Dave Walton, treasurer of the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) board of directors and a farmer near Wilton. “But this production report shows that even with a challenging year we still retain our status as a reliable supplier to the market.”

U.S. soybean production was 3.56 billion bushels, down 20% from 2018. The USDA noted, however, that it would be contacting soybean growers in Michigan, North Dakota and Wisconsin who indicated they had yet to harvest their 2019 crops.

“If the newly collected data justifies any changes, NASS will update the 2019 corn and soybean estimates published in this report,” the report said.

U.S. soybean production was above pre-report estimates. Average trade estimates pegged 2019 soybean production at 3.51 billion bushels.

Grain stocks

U.S. soybeans stored in all positions on December 1, 2019 totaled 3.25 billion bushels, down 13 percent from December 1, 2018. Soybean stocks stored on farms totaled 1.53 billion bushels, down 21% from a year ago. NASS noted that on-farm stocks includes not only harvested grain stored on the farm, but also crops that were standing in fields as of Dec. 1, 2019.

Off-farm stocks, at 1.73 billion bushels, are down 5% from last December.

Soybeans stored on Iowa farms as of Dec. 1, 2019 totaled 220 million bushels, down from 250 million bushels a year ago.

There were 294.16 million bushels of soybeans stored off-farm in Iowa as of Dec. 1, 2019, the report said. This is up from 277.5 million bushels as of Dec. 1, 2018.

World production

The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, also released today, pegged Brazil soybean production at 123 million metric tons. This was in line with average pre-report estimates. Soybean farmers in Argentina are forecast to produce 53 million metric tons, also in line with pre-report estimates.


Better-than-expected yields, while a good thing, don’t move markets. ISA’s senior director of market development Grant Kimberley says the scheduled signing of the Phase 1 agreement between the United States and China next week could help increase demand.

“If the agreement is signed and implemented in a real, significant way as promised, this could be a good thing for the soybean industry,” Kimberley said.

It’s at least a hopeful first step, Walton said.

“It’s been top-of-mind, and the signing would take some uncertainty of this market off the table,” Walton said. “If China and the United States follow through and get the agreement signed next week, it gives us a little more assurance that China will come back to the table in a significant way, and we can open up the market again.”

Contact Bethany Baratta at

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