Manitoba farmers are proving they can ignore the siren song of soybeans.
This year they appear to be seeding about 370,000 fewer acres of the popular crop, which, at about 1.9 million acres, is 84 percent of what they seeded in 2017 at 2.26 million acres, according to Manitoba crop insurance authorities.
This is a step back from the powerful recent trend of Manitoba farmers growing more and more soybeans each year.
“It’s probably just a sign of the years,” said Francois Labelle, executive director of the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers Association.
“We’re going to find a range here.”
Many farmers were disappointed with soybean yields last year, with a dry August hurting the crop in the crucial flowering and filling stages.
Many farmers had also been pushing soybean rotations in recent years.
And many farmers produced excellent yields of wheat last summer.
Those factors encouraged some farmers to be cautious with soybean plans, something further encouraged by dry soils going into freeze up.
“Guys pulled back a bit,” said Labelle.
Soybeans began an incredible acreage expansion in Manitoba’s Red River Valley in the early 2000s, as earlier-maturing varieties produced good returns in the low, hot area.
As variety developers pushed maturities even shorter, farmers above the valley, in western Manitoba and into Saskatchewan began planting the crop.
However, Labelle said many farmers are now comfortable with the crop and normalizing its place inside their rotations. He’s guessing farmers will end up within a range of 1.7 to 2.8 million acres, although it’s early to tell for sure.
The hot, dry weather this summer isn’t likely to encourage soybean planting for next year. Soils remain dry and precipitation is well below average.
Labelle said the early August weather will be very important for yields.