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Kentucky Corn and Soybean Farmers Optimistic About 2021 Markets

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Spring is casting its welcome sense of hope across the Bluegrass State, especially among farmers.

A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows Kentucky farmers intend to plant more acres in corn and soybeans this year than in 2020.

The USDA Prospective Plantings report found Kentucky farmers anticipating 1,550,000 acres of corn this spring. That’s 60,000 more acres than the previous year.

Farmers are also preparing to plant about 100,000 more acres of soybeans this year, compared to last year.

David Knopf, regional director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, based in Louisville, says prices for both crops this year look much better than 2020.

“The situation last year going into planting season, in terms of the possible revenue from crops, was very dismal," said Knopf. "Farmers were looking at either just break even kinds of prices, or prices that would not even support the cost of producing the commodities.”

Knopf said, for example, corn went from about $3.50 a bushel at this time last year, to now about $5.50 a bushel. 

He said international trade makes this a promising year for Kentucky agricultural products.

“Trade with other countries, especially China, has boosted the demand for both corn and soybeans, and that’s propping up prices," said Knopf. "And so farmers are looking to take advantage of better prices and therefore, it looks like they’re gonna plan to plant more acres.” 

He said the amount of winter wheat planted last fall in Kentucky is the largest acreage of that crop since 2015.

Rhonda Miller joined WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans.
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