Trade disputes between the U.S. and other countries are leaving many Kentucky farmers uncertain about the global market for soybeans. The crop has been the state’s largest agricultural export.
Kentucky farmers told the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service regional office in Louisville they’re expecting to plant 1.75-million acres of soybeans this year. That’s down from two million acres of soybeans last year, a decrease of 12 percent.
Director of the regional office David Knopf said there’s a natural rotation of fields between soybeans and corn, and Kentucky’s soybean acres planned for this year are within a five-year average. But Knopf said the 12 percent decline is noticeable.
“This year may be a little bit stronger downward trend in the soybean acres. That, of course, is being influenced by the market uncertainty resulting from the trade disruptions," said Knopf. "So, I think that’s an added contributing factor to this year’s decline in soybean acreage.”
Tariffs on trade with China have had an impact on soybean farmers across the U.S. At the end of last season, some soybean farmers in Kentucky said they were storing a portion of their crop because of the tariffs.
Kentucky's 12 percent decline in soybean acres for the 2019 season is more than the national decline in acreage. Across the U.S. soybean acreage is down five percent compared to last year.
As far as the forecast for 2019 corn production, Kentucky farmers are planning an increase. Growers in the Bluegrass State said they intend to plant about 1.43 million acres of corn this season, an increase of 90,000 acres over last year. Knopf said that planting is just getting underway.
“April 1st is the kind of target date for growers to start their corn planting. It starts in southern Kentucky and western Kentucky and moves from west to east and south to north," said Knopf. "So as the weather permits, we should start to see a lot of corn going in the ground here the next several days.”
Across the U.S. corn growers expect to plant 92.8 million acres this season, an increase of four percent over last year.