By the time January rolls around, farmers have usually purchased 80% of their seed corn and soybeans for the upcoming season. We know this based on the national seed and planting survey Farm Journal conducts with farmers annually. This year could be a bit different, with at least one adviser, Jim Mintert, encouraging farmers to hold off on buying some of their seed. “There are opportunities out there to lock in some positive returns,” he says, in a story reported by Tyne Morgan, host of “U.S. Farm Report.” “That’s going to play out over the next few months, and I think maintaining flexibility is going to be important.” (You can read the full story at bit.ly/wait-to-buy-seed.)
The uncertainty surrounding prices could spark some farmers to make a last-minute change to their crop rotation, which is why Mintert encourages flexibility. We wanted to get a sense of what you plan to plant this spring, so we asked you via a Farm Journal Pulse survey in early January. At this juncture, 56% of the 744 farmers who responded to our survey said this year they will plant what they did in 2018. Of the farmers who said they plan to make a change, the most common response (20%) was plant fewer soybean acres and more corn in 2019. This is the exact opposite of what farmers shared in 2018, when 20% said they would plant fewer corn acres and more soybeans. The obvious explanations for the about-face have to do with our huge soybean carryover, ongoing trade tariffs with China that have not been fully resolved and prices that were more down than up this past year. To improve profitability opportunities, 13% of you say you will expand beyond corn and soybeans and grow a different crop this season. In addition, 5% of you shared you plan to add livestock or expand your current numbers. That mirrors what you shared with us in 2018. To see a complete overview of the farmer responses to this annual Farm Journal Pulse survey, you can visit bit.ly/2019-crop-mix. With Farm Journal Pulse, we survey farmers for their opinions on a variety of topics at least twice each month. We then report the results at AgWeb.com. Text the word PULSE to 31313* to participate in the dialogue. We hope you’ll join us. As you can tell from our cover, this is an information-packed issue focused entirely on the year ahead. Our team covers everything from Trump and trade to crop prices and production expectations. We round out the magazine with risk management strategies and more than 20 tools you need in your shop and toolbox to tackle equipment repairs and maintenance. We hope you benefit from this timely information for months to come.