The recent Farm Futures 2024 acreage estimates showed farmers expect to plant 85 million soybean acres this year. Jacqueline Holland, grain market analyst for Farm Futures, says usage rates are rising faster than production, which means soybean stocks will remain tight for the 2024-2025 marketing year.
“They’re still going to end tight because of the growing soybean crush estimates that we’re expecting to see with the boom in renewable diesel demand. So, that is going to tighten soybean supplies during the next marketing year more than soybean supplies already are. So that’s a really good sign for soybean producers that even if there aren’t more acres this year, the market is still going to be hungry for those soybean bushels over the next year, year and a half or so.”
The Farm Futures survey shows producers planting 37.3 million acres of winter wheat, higher than USDA’s January estimate of 34.4 million acres. Holland says that the winter wheat number was surprising.
“I was very surprised to see that, especially since winter wheat prices at both the Chicago and Kansas City Boards of Trade have just fallen exponentially over the last year. However, because hard red winter wheat production still struggled a little bit last year, where our farmers indicated in Kansas and Oklahoma they had already planted it so it could be harvested this summer. Also, I think that with higher bean prices. soft red winter wheat growers in Southern Illinois and Missouri want to capitalize on those winter wheat and soybean rotations, so we saw higher acreage is expected in those states as well.”
Unlike in the southeast, where an El Niño weather pattern means a wet winter, the northern US will probably experience dryer conditions, and that could impact decisions on planting spring wheat or soybeans there.
“I think that where this comes into question is in North Dakota, and I think if the Northern Plains receive enough moisture this spring, we could see some bigger spring wheat acres planted instead of soybeans. But it’s an El Nino year, so I think that’s going to be one of the biggest uncertainties that the market faces until we get solid acreage numbers reported by farmers later this summer.”
It’s important to remember that plans can completely change between now and spring planting season.
“We think that we hit our peak of the El Nino system here back in December. We’ve enjoyed a very wet January across most of the heartland, but that could change if we run into some dry conditions in February and March. So, a lot can happen between now and planting in terms of weather, so it’s still kind of a hurry-up-and-wait game.”