Illinois continues to top the nation in soybean production, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. With good growing conditions and an emphasis on efficient management, Illinois has claimed this title in four of the last five growing seasons.
The annual crop production report from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimates that Illinois farmers raised 611.9 million bu. of soybeans in 2017 on 10.5 million harvested acres with an average yield of 58 bu. per acre. Illinois led the nation in all three categories. Iowa ranked second in production, raising 561.6 million bu. on 9.9 million acres with an average yield of 56.5 bu. per acre.
In 2017, there were more soybean acres harvested nationwide than corn acres.
Illinois Soybean Assn. (ISA) chair Lynn Rohrscheib, a soybean farmer from Fairmount, Ill., said “2017 was another good year for soybean production. Our farmers continue to raise the bar on achieving maximum yield without sacrificing profitability. We are excited to be the top soybean-producing state again, and Illinois’ 43,000 soybean farmers look forward to using best practices in the upcoming growing season.”
ISA production and outreach committee chair Jenny Mennenga, a soybean farmer from LeRoy, Ill., believes the organization’s focus on farmer education, including new practices and industry innovations, allows farmers to maximize their yield potential and minimize costs.
“Each year, we better utilize checkoff funds to invest in key farmer profitability initiatives, like intensive local learning sessions and the ILSoyAdvisor.com resource,” Mennenga said. “This contributes to the success of our growers and challenges us to continue to seek these opportunities that allow us to reach top yields.”
Another large contributing factor to Illinois’ soy success is the value placed on getting Illinois soybeans efficiently from farmer to customer.
“There are unique logistical challenges that exist in getting our product to market, including by rail, road and waterway. It’s a key priority of the organization to make sure we are leading the way in serving our customers efficiently, knowing that any gains we can make in transportation translate to generating more demand for our product,” said ISA marketing committee chair Austin Rincker, a soybean farmer from Moweaqua, Ill.
ISA chief executive officer Craig Ratajczyk echoed the sentiment, saying, “Supply is important to our industry, but utilization and demand are equally as important. Maintaining our top soybean production status is about understanding the entire value chain and creating new market opportunities where we can.”
Ratajczyk further pointed out that Illinois soybean production adds billions of dollars to the economies of Illinois and the U.S. and provides for hundreds of thousands of jobs in this state.
“The entire global value chain, which Illinois soybean production is a member of, adds substantially more financial and marketplace value,” he said. “We will continue to cultivate our relationships with customers and key stakeholders around the world to make sure that Illinois soybean farmers are recognized for their substantial contributions in maintaining a high-quality, sustainable and competitive global soy supply.”
If Illinois were its own country, it would rank as the fourth-largest soybean-producing country in the world, after the U.S., Brazil and Argentina, he added.