USDA Outlook: U.S. soybean plantings forecast to fall 1% year-over-year to 73.9 million acres in 2012 as farmers plant more corn; soybean output to increase 5% to 3.205 billion bushels--the third-largest on record

WASHINGTON , May 14, 2012 (press release) – The following article is excerpted from the May Oil Crops Outlook published by the Economic Research Service of the USDA.

Domestic Outlook

On Lower 2012 Acreage, U.S. Soybean Crop To Rise Moderately With a Better Yield

U.S. intended acreage for soybeans in 2012 is down 1 percent to 73.9 million acres. In the Corn Belt this spring, farmers are substituting more corn area for soybeans, although acreage gains for soybeans in the Northern Plains and the South could partly offset that decline. Last year, a hot and dry summer in parts of the Midwest and early frosts for late-sown crops in the upper Midwest cut the national average soybean yield to 41.5 bushels per acre. Soybean yields could recover in 2012 (assuming average weather) to a long-term trend of 43.9 bushels per acre. On an estimated U.S. harvested area of 73 million acres, the 2012 soybean crop is projected up 5 percent from last year to 3.205 billion bushels, making it the third-largest on record.

Aided by historically warm weather for March and April, soybean planting this spring is off to one of the fastest starts ever. As of May 6, 24 percent of U.S. soybeans had been sown—more than double the usual rate. Planting might slow briefly with heavy rains across the upper Midwest in early May. But if the fast progress resumes, farmers might be able to maximize use of all available cropland and possibly reap yield benefits later in the growing season.

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