Agronomist says rising crop yields, trade war with China loom over, depress prices

DEWEY — Farmers at the annual Dewey Bank farmers breakfast were a little depressed after hearing a forecast for continued low corn and soybean prices this year.

Todd Hubbs, an agronomist at the University of Illinois, predicted average soybean prices per bushel will be $8.30 in the 2019-20 marketing year, down from $8.50 this year.

“I’m a little bit optimistic on corn prices,” Hubbs said Tuesday morning at Dewey Church.

Corn prices per bushel could increase from $3.60 to $3.70, he said, but are still expected to be below the average price since around 2007 of $4.38.

Hubbs blamed a glut of soybeans, along with ever-increasing yields of corn and soybeans and the continuing trade war with China.

“You can agree with the policy, you can agree with the president and the man and his vision, but this tariff thing is not going to solve this,” Hubbs said. “At this point, I would like for us to just cut our losses and reset on the intellectual property and all these other things, but I don’t think we’re going to. And that’s why I’m a little bit discouraged about where we’re headed for soybeans.”

But he said even if the trade war is resolved, that won’t entirely save soybean prices, which have been below the average price since around 2007 of $11.18 a bushel for the last few years.

“Because for China to take beans for us, they’re going to stop taking beans from Brazil, and then other people we’ve been selling to will go to Brazil,” he said. “We need a trade deal to get us to a reset place, but don’t expect miracles out of it for soybean price.”

Hubbs projects there will be 965 million bushels of soybeans in global inventories at the end of the 2018-19 marketing year, up from 438 million bushels the year before and 302 million the year before that.

If there is a trade deal, Hubbs said it may help corn prices more than soybean prices.

“So the trade deal, might be more of a boost for corn than beans, because the world’s not overflowing with corn per se, like it is with beans,” he said.

With the continued low prices forecasted, Hubbs joked the best farmers can hope for is bad weather elsewhere.

“So if the western Corn Belt could possibly get in late and then get a drought, I would be tickled pink,” he said.

Categories (2):News, Agriculture


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