The 2022 Soybean Yield Guide from Agricultural Economic Insights looked at the potential range of possibilities for this year’s soybean harvest. David Widmar is an agricultural economist who says the soybean yield guide looked a little different from the corn yield guide.
“Soybeans have this opposite phenomenon than corn did. With soybeans, the trend yield of the USDA initial yield estimate is going to look a little bit lower than what we might initially expect. Why? Because we’ve had some really big yields in the last few years. In fact, only one year since 2014 has been below the trend line. Right now, the USDA is going to initially in February, they’re probably going to carry that over into May, had a yield starting at 51.5 bushels per acre. And then, that’s going to seem relatively low considering the bigger yields we’ve had in the last few years.”
Based on his interactions with customers from different parts of farm country, Widmar is noticing some pessimism when it comes to the 2022 soybean crop getting to the USDA trendline.
“I think it’s always an important question to ask is when do we know anything beyond the trend yield? When can we start dialing in and forecasting yields? From the Ag Forecast Network and the yield challenge that we have going on where farmers and agribusiness professionals are thinking about where might the final yield outcome for corn and soybeans be in 2022? We can already tell you that there’s a little bit of pessimism between the slow planting, wet conditions in the East, and the dry conditions in the West, everyone’s already kind of calibrating their thinking that, you know, these trendline yields might be a little hard to reach here in 2022.”
From an analytical standpoint, he says it’s hard to know if the pessimism is warranted yet. “This consensus, that’s a bunch of individual expectations. From the pure scientists side of me, the economist side of me, I don’t know when we can step up and say this is going to be a good time of the year. Is it in June or is it in the early July that we can definitively say, yeah, this crop is starting to be good or maybe a below-trend potential outcome?”
Widmar says the stakes are very high for the 2022 crops. “We have relatively tight stock situations for corn and soybeans in the U.S. and for all crops around the globe. And then we have the supply situation, the shocks and the uncertainties from Russia and Ukraine, and just the dryness that we talked about earlier in the western parts of the U.S., to dryness concerns in South America, so the stakes are really high. So, I think, unfortunately, we might not know a lot about yields at this point, but the market is very concerned, and the stakes are very high as the production here in 2022 will be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.”