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USDA predicts smaller U.S. soybean crop in report

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Survey information from farmers in Iowa and in other states will be used in the August WASDE report to reflect prevent planting acres in the United States. (Photo Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Bethany Baratta, ISA senior writer

In another month, Iowa soybean farmers will have a better idea of what this year’s soybean crop will yield. In another month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will too, with updated acreage and survey-based data to predict U.S. and global stocks.

In its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report released today, USDA predicts smaller soybean crops and lower ending stocks.

“There really weren’t any surprises in this report. I think we're still trying to wrap our minds around what is taking place from a production standpoint,” said April Hemmes, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) board member from Hampton.

The USDA estimated U.S. soybean plantings at 80 ­­­­­­­­­million acres in its July report. This was down from the June WASDE projection at 84.6 million acres.

Plantings could be even less in the August WASDE report as it factors in a resurveying of farmers in Iowa and in other states impacted by adverse spring planting conditions, said Cory Bratland, chief grain strategist for Kluis Commodity Advisors.

Prevent plant acres weren’t officially included in the July WASDE report, either, Bratland said. The Aug. 12 WASDE report should include more of those numbers. The deadline for prevent plant acres was pushed from July 15 to July 22, the USDA said in a release this week. The National Agricultural Statistics Service’s (NASS) acreage survey will be combined with prevent plant information in the Aug. 12 WASDE report. That should give farmers a better idea of the marketplace, said Grant Kimberley, ISA director of market development.

 “Today’s WASDE report appears to be somewhat of a non-report,” he said. “Next month’s report should give us a better indication of soybean stocks as it takes into account prevented planting acres and the resurveyed acreage numbers.”

April Hemmes, ISA board member from Hampton, says all eyes are on the weather in determining this year's soybean yield. (Photo Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

Shrinking ending stocks

July beginning soybean stocks were pegged at 1.05 billion bushels in the report, down from 1.07 billion bushels estimated in the June report.

Ending stocks were estimated at 795 million bushels, down from the 1.04 billion bushels in the USDA’s June WASDE report. 

Smaller ending stocks is good news, Kimberley says, but it’s largely due to USDA lowering its projections from the June report due to the NASS acreage report out in late June (which is now being redone). Yield per acre was lowered from 49.5 bushels per acre to 48.5 bushels per acre in this month’s report.

 Bratland said exports remain fairly strong, which will help eat away at soybean stocks.

“Soybean demand is still strong (with other trading partners in the rest of the world) even without a trade deal with China,” Bratland said. 

Soybean exports in the report were projected at 1.87 billion bushels, down from the June estimate at 1.95 billion bushels.

Corn estimates

The USDA estimated U.S. corn plantings at 91.7 million acres, up from 89.8 million acres estimated in the June WASDE report. Beginning stocks were estimated at 2.34 billion bushels in the report, up from 2.19 billion bushels in the June estimate. Ending stocks were raised in the report to 2.01 billion bushels, up from 1.67 billion bushels estimated in June. The average price, at ­$3.70, was down from the $3.80 per bushel estimated in June.

Weather, markets

November soybeans were up a nickel to $9.16 a bushel at the close of the markets today.

Bratland said farmers should watch the markets for opportunities to sell.

 “If soybean futures move higher to the upper $9 to $10 range, you better take advantage of it,” he said.

There’s still plenty of weather risk, Bratland noted.

“This crop is still in jeopardy,” Bratland said. “There’s a lot of late-planted soybeans out there. I think the 48.5-bushels-per-acre crop is still tough to achieve.”

Hemmes said the soybean yields on her farm—like others across the state—depend largely on the weather.

“We're going to continue to watch the weather through the rest of the month and in August,” Hemmes said. “Once we get into August we'll get updated acreage figures from the resurvey and get a better idea of what we're looking at yield-wise.”

Contact Bethany Baratta at

For media inquiries, permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at © 2020 Iowa Soybean Association. All rights reserved.

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