Asian soybean rust is already having an effect on soybean production in the United States. But the impact is not as great as some may have thought, says Chris Hurt, Purdue University agricultural economist.

USDA’s Prospective Plantings Report, based on farmer surveys, projects a 2% dip in national soybean acreage and a 1% jump in national corn acreage this spring, compared to 2004 plantings. Some farmers have told the USDA they plan to substitute other oilseed crops, such as sunflowers and canola, for soybean crops this spring.

“There probably was not as big a reduction in the soybean acreage as some had anticipated, especially if you go back in January and early February when we saw people talking about a 3-5% reduction across the United States,” recalls Hurt.

“One of the reasons that the reduction in bean acreage hasn’t been as big is because soybean prices for the new crop have rallied relative to corn. So the incentive to plant soybeans has increased over the last six weeks because of these higher new-crop bean prices.”

The 2005 soybean acreage is estimated at 73.9 million acres. National corn acreage is projected at 81.4 million acres, the largest in the United States since 1985.

Last year, U.S. farmers produced 11.8 billion bu. of corn and 3.14 billion bu. of soybeans, both U.S. production records.