Dr. Chad Hart

Chad Hart, Iowa State University professor and Extension economist. (Photo: Iowa Soybean Association / Joclyn Bushman)

Survey says…more soy in 2024

March 28, 2024 | Kriss Nelson

  • U.S. growers intend to plant 86.5 million acres of soybeans this year, up 3%.
  • The corn planted acreage in Iowa will be lowest since 2006.
  • Planting intentions don’t mean final planting decisions

Corn markets responded positively to the USDA’s quarterly grain stocks and 2024 planting intentions report, released Thursday. However, the report had a slightly negative effect on soybeans. 

What do these reports mean for farmers? 

“Enjoy it, especially on the corn side,” says Chad Hart, Iowa State University professor and Extension economist. “There was concern this report would be negative. We were fearful that we would see a lot of acres planted into corn and soybeans, increasing the concern about oversupply in 2024. When we look at those acreage numbers, they suggest we may see a better balance. We still have a carryover of stocks, but the issue does not look as large in the longer term.” 

Regardless of the results, Rick Juchems, a farmer from Plainfield and Iowa Soybean Association district 3 director, says he is sticking with his planting intentions for the 2024 growing season. 

“I use a fifty-fifty rotation, so my planting decisions have all been made,” says Juchems. 

Although he doesn’t let the planting intention report affect his decision about what to plant on his acres, he pays close attention to what it can mean for the markets. 

“I watch what USDA says about stock carryover and follow up with that information to help me make my marketing decisions,” he says. 

Quarterly grain stocks report

Hart says the report showed a large carryover in both soybeans and corn – which was expected.  

The disappearance of soybeans has slowed down this year compared to 2023, down 13%, while corn has used up 400 million bushels more these past three months than last year. 

“Both crops are seeing higher stock levels, but corn seems to be burning through it more than soybeans are right now, and that is even with the growth we have seen on the biofuel side,” says Hart, noting that this likely affected Thursday’s market. 

2024 planting intentions

Hart says the USDA’s perspective planting report is a “good story” for both corn and soybeans. 

“This is especially compared to what USDA had laid out early on,” he says.  

Looking back to the Ag Outlook ForumUSDA said corn was going to lose 3.5 million acres and soybeans would gain that plus some.  

“USDA had the directions right, but the magnitudes were off,” Hart says. 

Soybeans added 2.9 million acres, and corn reduced planting intentions by 4.6 million acres. 

“Soybeans didn’t gain as much as originally feared, which has helped us alleviate some of that stock situation,” says Hart. “The same goes for corn. The corn acres cut was more significant, which also helps alleviate overproduction concerns going into next year.” 

U.S. growers intend to plant 86.5 million acres of soybeans this year, up 3% from 2023, according to the USDA reportCompared with last year, planted acreage intentions are up or unchanged in 24 of the 29 estimating states. Increases of 100,000 acres or more are anticipated in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Dakota. A decrease of 180,000 acres is expected in Kansas. 

U.S. growers intend to plant 90 million acres to corn in 2024, a decrease of 5% from last year, according to the report. Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be down or unchanged in 38 of the 48 estimating states. Acreage decreases of 300,000 acres or more from last year are expected in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Texas.  

The corn planted acreage in Iowa will be the lowest since 2006. The planted acreage in Montana will be the highest since 1958. Record high acreage is expected in Arizona and Oregon. Record low acreage is expected in Rhode Island. 

Why the pullback in acres? 

Across the country, crop-producing acres are expected to be down nearly 6 million acres, with Kansas down 5%, Oklahoma down 6%, Texas down 5.5% and New Mexico down 7%. 

Hart says this could be due to the dry conditions many states have experienced over the past few years. 

“Overall U.S. crop production, which includes the 20 main crops including hay, is down 2% compared to last year,” he says. “There has been a strong cut in the Southern Plains. This tells me that area will fall out of production, at least for a bit. Maybe they are trying to heal from drought over the past few years. Farmers may not trust they will get rains, so they pulled back on planting, fearing they cannot produce a crop.” 

Hart says to remember these numbers are only planting intentions

“We haven’t gotten to drop the seed in the ground yet,” he says. “There is a lot that can happen to change acre decisions. Mostly, these intentions show us what we will plant if we have an optimum planting window.” 

Although the report appears favorable to farmers, there is still a pricing situation that Hart says could be rough for farmers this year. 

“The report highlights some of the issues out there, especially on the soybean side,” he says. “It points out that export markets are struggling, specifically with China. Will we see stronger demand coming out of China in the next few months? Or can we cobble together other international demand to help soften the blow of that slowdown in exports right now? The biofuels side continues to look good, but it’s not enough to help alleviate the problems we are facing in terms of the building of stock levels in soybeans.”