Late planted acreage accounted for 48 percent of the acreage in 1986 and 47 percent in 2011. Acreage and yield outcomes in those years might influence expectations for this year if it turns out that a large percentage of the acreage is planted late.

In the five years with the most late planted acreage (1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, and 1996), total planted acreage exceeded March intentions in four years. The increase ranged from about 800,000 acres (1.3 percent) to about 2.1 million acres (3.6 percent).

Planted acreage was 1.6 million acres (2.7 percent) less than intentions in 1990.  In both 1986 and 2011, planted acreage was about 1.6 million acres (2.6 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively) less than March intentions. 

Acreage responses in years of large amounts of late planting have not been consistent in either direction or magnitude relative to intentions reported in March. The difference between actual planted acreage and March intentions in those seven years ranged from 1.3 to 3.6 percent and averaged 2.4 percent. 

Based on planting intentions of 77.126 million acres this year, the previous experience suggests that planted acres will differ from intentions by about 1.8 million acres, in a range of 1.0 to 2.8 million acres, if late plantings are large. History, however, does not offer much insight on the likely direction of the difference.


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The U.S. average soybean yield relative to trend value also varied in the previous years of large amounts of late-planted acreage. 

The U.S. average yield was less than one bushel above trend value in 1986 and 1996, very near trend in 1990 and 1991, and about a bushel below trend in 1995 and 2011. The largest deviation from trend was the nearly three bushel shortfall in 1993. 

Yields are mostly determined by July and August weather conditions. The history of yields in late-planted years suggests that like most other years, the U.S. average yield this year should be within about one bushel of the trend value of 44 bushels per acre unless summer weather conditions are extreme.

The USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report indicated that 24 percent of the U.S. soybean acreage had been planted as of May 19. That compares to the previous 5-year average planting progress of 42 percent. 

The slowest progress relative to the previous 5-year average was in Iowa and delays are likely to continue there due to recent and upcoming precipitation. 

The report to be released on June 3 will allow a calculation of the percentage of the crop planted late by our definition. It appears that percentage will be above the long-term average of 32 percent, but well below the historical extreme of 66 percent.  

November 2013 soybean futures have increased about $0.75 from the low on May 10. Much of that increase is apparently based on production concerns related to prospects of more than the average amount of late planting. 

Check current soybean futures prices

History suggests that those concerns, particularly from the yield side, are probably premature. The USDA’s June 28 Acreage report will provide a clearer picture of the magnitude of planted acreage.

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