Early soybean planting this spring could mean record yields come fall

Wisconsin’s soybeans are about three weeks ahead of the game compared to last year’s crop due to early planting — setting the stage for a possible record yield.

UW-Madison Prof. Paul Mitchell said the normal, average weather that’s good for crops this year seems exceptional after a couple years of wet weather that delayed farmers from planting soybeans. This year, farmers got their soybeans planted early. 

Soybeans are only about one week ahead of the five-year average, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. But regardless of timing, good crop weather does result in a great yield. 

“We should be expecting trend yields or maybe a little better particularly for soybean just because of the early planting and the weather has been pretty good,” Mitchell said. “We could possibly have a record soybean yield. We could have some pretty serious soybean production here in the state.” 

The DeLong Company, a leading exporter in soybeans, is expecting a big soybean crop if ideal growing conditions continue, said DeLong spokesman Doug Kloepping. 

August is critical to the development and “finishing” of the soybean crop, he said. “Current conditions and moisture levels here in the stateline area should have area producers smiling at the potential of their 2020 crops.”

Mitchell pointed out that oversupply is always a concern, but since half of Wisconsin’s soybeans are exported, having a market is the biggest concern. 

“If we can’t export, then things get goofy,” he said. “What we’re counting on right now is that we’re able to export things.”

China is the largest buyer of Wisconsin soybeans and in the last few weeks has started purchasing again regularly. Mitchell noted that soybeans have risen to the $9-per-bushel range and are staying there for now, but that could change at any time. 

-By Stephanie Hoff