Small jump in Ont. soybean acres forecast

(Resource News International) — Acres to be seeded to soybeans in Ontario this spring should be up from the year-ago level, but there are several factors that could result in plantings being larger than anticipated.

“There is still a lot of indecision among producers in Ontario in terms of what to plant,” said Peter Johnson, a cereals specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at Stratford.

There were a fair amount of soybean acres already committed, but the producers who haven’t entirely made up their minds could swing the pendulum toward soybeans still, he said.

“A lot of the decisions will be made just ahead of planting, which normally gets underway in the province towards the end of April,” Johnson said. “The price of soybeans versus corn will help in the determination as will the cost of fertilizers.”

A late or early spring will also determine which crop goes into the ground, Johnson said.

Dale Petrie, general manager for the Ontario Soybean Growers, said there has been some strong consideration given to the planting of soybeans by producers in Ontario based on seed sales to date.

“A lot of producers have also been waiting for fertilizer prices to go down, and that just has not happened,” Petrie said, noting that this factor alone will facilitate the jump in planted area to soybeans.

Petrie said the price of fertilizer does not impact the soybean sector, but does impact corn, which requires a lot of this product in order to maximize yield potential.

Johnson agreed that the cost of fertilizers is a huge factor on the minds of producers.

“Producers are definitely thinking they can grow a soybean crop with little to no fertilizer inputs compared with corn,” Johnson said. “In terms of corn, the producer will at the very least need to use nitrogen and bypass phosphorus despite the fact the fields would also benefit from this application.”

There were 2.1 million acres seeded to soybeans in the spring of 2008, according to Statistics Canada figures. Producers in Ontario seeded 2.24 million acres to soybeans during the spring of 2007.

Petrie estimated that soybean area in the spring of 2009 will be at least five to seven per cent higher than in 2008.

Johnson said the area that has already been committed to soybeans was probably in the 1.6 million- to 1.7 million-acre range and that another 400,000 to 500,000 acres could easily be swung towards soybeans still.

Both Petrie and Johnson said the area base to soybeans could also be influenced by how much winter wheat in the province suffered freeze damage.

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