As China soy demand wavers, U.S. farmers flip again to grains By EconomySquare

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A trailer is crammed with soybeans at a farm in Buda Illinois

By Michael Hirtzer

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Because the mid-2000s, North Dakota farmer Paul Thomas has planted extra of his land with soybeans as China’s demand for the oilseed grew. The shift culminated this 12 months when Thomas planted 1,600 of his 5,000 acres with soybeans – probably the most ever.

However Thomas and plenty of farmers like him plan to return to the previous U.S. farm belt staples in 2019: corn and wheat. The change will reverse a development that noticed U.S. farmers plant extra acreage this 12 months with soybeans than corn for the primary time in 35 years.

The anticipated shift to different grains comes as farmers battle to promote the soybean crop due to President Donald Trump’s commerce battle with China. China sometimes buys 60 % of U.S. soybean exports however has purchased virtually none for months because of the commerce battle, pushing costs to a decade low.

Thomas plans to plant extra wheat subsequent 12 months, hoping he can earn extra by lowering his reliance on the crop depending on Chinese language demand.

Soybean costs are “kicking our butts,” stated Thomas.

With out China, Thomas stated native money costs close to his farm are $7.10 per bushel of soybeans, under the $8.50 essential to cowl prices.

The commerce battle has hit U.S. farmers at a weak time. They’d planted extra acreage than ever with soybeans this 12 months and are harvesting the biggest ever U.S. crop.

However Beijing slapped an import tax on U.S. soybeans in July in retaliation for Trump’s taxes on Chinese language imports into the US.

The primary estimate for subsequent 12 months’s planting by the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) to incorporate the impression of the tariffs afterward Friday is anticipated to substantiate early personal estimates for fewer soybean acres.

U.S.-based Informa Economics on Oct. 19 forecast 2019 corn acreage, most of which shall be planted beginning round April, at 92.7 million acres (37.5 mln hectares), up four %, and soybean acres down 7 % to 83 million acres, in keeping with a report seen by EconomySquare. Informa predicted U.S. wheat acres would rise four %.

Acreage of soybeans, planted earlier than retaliatory tariffs had been imposed, rose to 89.6 million this 12 months, up about 15 million acres from a decade in the past.

Corn acres are up by lower than 5 million acres since 2008 to 89.1 million acres whereas wheat acres of 47.Eight million this 12 months had been close to the bottom in a century.

Aron Carlson, president of the Illinois Corn Growers Affiliation, devoted almost half of his 3,600 acres to soybeans this 12 months however plans to chop again.

He stated he could improve corn planting by as much as 20 % at his farm in northern Illinois. The state is the largest U.S. soy producer.

Soybeans yield fewer bushels per acre than corn but additionally require much less fertilizer, making them typically cheaper to develop. A change to corn might elevate prices for farmers however profit some firms together with fertilizer sellers like The Andersons Inc. The agency’s Chief Government Pat Bowe advised Reuters he anticipated a change to corn can be good for fertilizer use.

Bayer AG (DE:), too, expects to learn from a change to corn.

“Corn has a longer growing period, more issues with weeds and fungi … This is a benefit for our overall business,” Liam Condon, president of the corporate’s Crop Science division, stated at an occasion in St. Louis this week.


Whereas soybean costs tumbled to a decade-low on Sept. 18, corn is just not ceaselessly exported to China and slumped to merely a 22-month low. Wheat costs are up 19 % this 12 months as reserves in lots of exporting international locations have fallen to their lowest stage since 2007-08.

Corn demand has benefited from long-term development within the livestock business and grain-based ethanol. Drought in Brazil and Argentina additionally made corn importers extra reliant on the US.

A document 3.2 billion bushels of U.S. corn had been consumed from June to September, the USDA stated on Sept. 28.

Illinois farmer Eric Honselman stated his household farm planted about equal quantities of corn and soybeans on their 5,600 acres. However corn acres subsequent 12 months will seemingly improve by as much as 5 %.

“Next year, we will be longer corn than soybeans,” Honselman stated. “Every time the market tells me to grow corn, I will do it.”

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