“Weather cooperated, and the early part of the season, producers were running about a week ahead of average, with planting progress getting closer to average during the latter part of the planting season. This was in stark contrast to 2009, when we had a late crop, with both planting and harvesting strung out over a long period of time,” he says.

This past April, moisture conditions were looking good, even in the South, says Davis. “If you get the beans planted early, and get moisture and warm weather, you can get the crop emerged. We had soybeans emerging about a week before the five-year average. Again, this was in stark contrast to the 2009 crop,” he says.

At about mid-May, in Iowa, the decision is made that if you haven’t already planted corn, you usually switch to soybeans, due to yield potential, says Davis.

As soybeans began blooming, the crop was still running about a week ahead of the average, he says. As harvest began, crop progress had returned to the average.

In the September USDA report, about 13 percent of the U.S. soybean crop was in the very poor to poor category, 24 percent was fair, 46 percent was good and 17 percent was excellent.

Looking at trends in planted acreage for U.S. soybeans, an increase was seen in 1996 when the farm bill at that time lifted planting restrictions. A large increase was noted in 2006 when many agricultural economists were saying the relative profitability of soybeans was better than that for corn, says Davis. Then, in 2007, soybeans began giving up acres to corn because of ethanol.

“Since then, we’ve been ramping up soybean acreage,” he says. “We’re looking at 78.9 million acres planted this year and 77.9 million acres harvested.”

In the Midwest, producers in Illinois and Indiana decreased acreage slightly and Iowa increased its soybean acres by about 7 percent. Altogether, Midwestern states planted about 3 percent more soybeans this year than in 2009.

Production will be up in the Midwest this year, making up about 85 percent of total U.S. production, says Davis.

In terms of relative profitability, soybeans have not been faring as well in the South, he says, and yields have taken a hit this year due to heat and drought. Production is expected to be down by about 13 percent from last year.

“The issue is our relative supply. We are a protein/meal deficit region anyway, and this will just exacerbate that issue.”