By DYLAN SMITH, NEWS3 Reporter
MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) – According to the United States Department of Agriculture, farmers across the country are expected to plant more soybeans than corn in 2022.
This is not the first time the country has seen this. In fact, the same scenario has occurred two other times in recent history. However, 2022 is the largest disparity between the two crops since 1983.
According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, farmers are expected to plant nearly 91 million acres of soybeans and nearly 89.5 million acres of corn, down 4 percent from last year. In 1983, the difference was more than 3 million acres.
USDA-NASS Crops Branch Chief Lance Honig said a large factor for farmers planting less corn is the increased price of nitrogen fertilizer, making it cheaper to plant soybeans.
“There are a lot of different factors that impact planting decisions for producers,” Honig said. “Commodity prices are certainly one of those factors as well as input cost. Speaking specifically about nitrogen, corn requires a lot of it, whereas soybeans fixate nitrogen.”
The largest increases in soybean production are expected in Illinois and Missouri, where producers in each state intend to plant 400,000 more acres than in 2021.
Vice President of Data Analysis for the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) Bradley Zwilling said that the price of nitrogen fertilizer has tripled, making what to plant a business decision.
“Corn has been less profitable than soybeans over the last couple of years,” Zwilling said. “This gives farmers an opportunity to make a little bit more of a profit.”
Zwilling said that the cost of fertilizer was high in the fall, forcing many farmers to wait for costs to come down in the spring. Instead, the opposite happened. Now farmers may or may not be able to get the inputs they need.
Because different parts of Illinois use certain products at different times, Zwilling said there could be a supply issue in the coming months.
“If we have higher inputs, it’s going to put a tighter squeeze on the farmers who can’t set the price they sell for and they can’t set the price on the inputs,” Zwilling said.
Zwilling said 2023 could be a really tough year for farmers if this trend continues.