N.Y. farmers to increase soybean acreage

New York state farmers are planning to plant a record high 235,000 acres of soybeans this spring, up

New York state farmers are planning to plant a record high 235,000 acres of soybeans this spring, up 15 percent from 2007, while year-over-year corn planting will be flat, according to a report Monday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Amsterdam farmer John Holloway, who operates Holloway Brothers Farms with his brothers, Brian and Chris, and his father, Schuyler, said he expects to plant 1,100 acres of corn this spring and 100 acres of soybeans.

“That’s a little bit less corn than normal and last year we didn’t plant any soybeans,” he said. “The trend around the country for planting more soybeans is due to the extremely high input costs for corn, specifically fertilizer and fuel.”

New York farmers plan to plant 1.1 million acres of corn this year, the same as last year and up 100,000 acres from 2006. Nationally, farmers intend to plant 8 percent less than last year, according to USDA.

Nationwide, soybean acreage is expected to jump 18 percent, to 74.8 million acres. This is an increase of 11.2 million acres from 2007 and is just 1 percent below 2006’s record high.

Holloway estimates corn fertilizer costs have increased for his farm by more than one-third since last year. Although growing soybeans is cheaper than corn, he said his farm’s decision to grow more soybeans was not dictated by costs.

“Rather than planting according to the market we have a set rotation that we try to follow. We have a couple of fields we need to rotate. We can’t grow continuous corn on them,” Holloway said.

Commodity prices fluctuated after the release of Monday’s report. Corn for May delivery jumped 6.6 cents on the Chicago Board of Trade to close at $5.67 a bushel. Soybeans for May delivery dropped 70 cents to close at $11.97 per bushel.

Holloway said his farm is still storing about 50 percent of the corn it produced last year. He said he expects corn prices to continue to go higher throughout the summer and his farm will attempt to time the market when it sells its stored corn.

Dairy farmer Brian Devendorf, also based in Amsterdam, said he plans to plant 120 acres of corn, more than enough to feed his 35 cows, and then sell the rest. He said he’d also like to plant 30 to 40 acres of soybeans, despite their dropping price.

“Soybeans will make their own nitrogen, so if you plant corn the year after soybeans you gain a little nitrogen in the soil with that crop rotation,” Devendorf said.

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