Record soybean crop like winning the Super Bowl

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RICHMOND—This year’s Virginia soybean harvest is expected to break a record.

“We’ve basically grown the largest soybean crops in our history for five years in a row. That’s as unprecedented as a football team winning the Super Bowl for five years in a row,” said Robert Harper, grain marketing manager for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “What a gift, and something to be truly thankful for.”

Virginia soybean production is expected to total 26.6 million bushels in 2017, which is 7 percent higher than expected and a 23 percent increase from 2016’s total, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The monthly forecast from that agency predicts yields per acre will be nine bushels higher than last year’s crop.

Virginia’s soybean harvest was a little more than half complete as of Nov. 13, slightly ahead of the average. Timely rains, good harvest weather and scientific advances have contributed to an excellent season, Harper said.

“The genetics in the seed just keep getting better,” he explained. “And the crop protectants are better every year. You throw in 100 years of extension research that just keeps improving our growing practices, producers who apply nutrients and crop protectants with laser accuracy, and the good Lord sending us great weather and we get five great crops in a row.”

Virginia soybean growers planted 590,000 acres this year. Harper said that was in response to market signals that soybeans would be more profitable in 2017.

“Remember, corn prices have been in decline since mid-2014. And a lot of corn producers in the U.S. and Virginia generally are only near break-even economically with average yields. So one reason beans are up is that they’re less expensive to grow, and there’s more profit in beans,” Harper explained.

The national soybean crop is expected to be 4.43 billion bushels, also a record. Prices for future crops have been good so far this fall, but with much of this year’s crop already going into the grain bin, Harper said dealers on the Chicago Board of Trade are starting to watch weather patterns in South America to determine soybean prices in the future.

“The world needs every soybean the American farmer can produce. Every single one of them,” Harper emphasized. “We experienced extremely strong soybean demand the last marketing year, record-breaking, actually. We kicked off a new marketing year Sept. 1, and we’ve continued to have extremely strong demand.

“To have near record-breaking demand at the same time we have these record crops is almost perfect,” he said.

Media: Contact Harper at 804-290-1105 or Norm Hyde, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1146.

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