As to whether the improved yields last year and the high prices for soybeans this year will equate to more soybean acreage in Virginia, Holshouser says, “We’ll at least maintain our soybean acreage, and it may be up slightly.”                                                                                                       

Holshouser says there was likely some cotton acreage shifted to soybeans in Virginia. “One agent just informed us he wouldn’t be putting in an on-farm cotton variety test because his No. 1 and No. 2 cooperators shifted these fields out of cotton and into soybeans,” the Virginia soybean specialist notes.

Charles Hall, executive director of the North Carolina Soybean Association, says the market for soybeans looks very promising. “We’ve got strength in the continued demand for feed grains from the livestock industry in the Southeast, and we’ve got increased collaboration among commodity associations to help keep our animal agriculture viable,” he notes. 

“Cargill really likes North Carolina soybeans, and some things are happening in the state that may lead to more on-farm storage, which will improve the marketing situation for farmers,” he adds. 

Hall, who has been a staunch proponent of building a strong soybean export market in the Upper Southeast, says export potential for beans is also promising.

“Soybeans are the No. 1 export crop for the U.S.  China is a big customer, and Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and Taiwan are also major buyers. The soybean checkoff is putting a lot of emphasis on serving these customers.  Their annual purchases are helping elevate the price of beans,” he says.

For beans originating in the Southeast, a lot depends on when the shippers find the basis favorable. “The margins are so tight the traders come shopping for beans when the basis is favorable, and hold off when it is not,” Hall says.

Highly regarded Economist Richard Brock, speaking at a winter meeting of the Virginia Grain Growers Association predicted a surge in soybean interest, if not acreage. “The expected long ride with high corn prices may be shorter than most are forecasting and the fall may be more severe.”

Brock admits some of his peers think he is over-reacting to economic indicators and too quick to pull the plug on high corn prices. However, recent developments in soybean prices, reports of excess corn worldwide and a high demand for more soybeans, seems to indicate his prediction was right on the money.

rroberson@farmpress.com