Rust Has Little Impact on Planting Intentions, Cutting Only by 2%

Soybean growers intend to plant an estimated 73.9 million acres, down just 2% from last year's record acreage.

USDA's Prospective Plantings report released Thursday morning confirmed that Asian soybean rust has not greatly impacted farmers decisions to plant the 2005 soybean crop. Soybean growers intend to plant an estimated 73.9 million acres, down 2% from last year's record acreage. Soybean production in 2004 totaled 3.14 billion bushels, the largest U.S. soybean crop in history. However, since soybean rust was first confirmed in the continental U.S. on Nov. 9, 2004, there has been heightened speculation of how growers would react to this fast-spreading, yield-reducing disease.

To measure farmer awareness of Asian soybean rust and how its discovery has affected their planting decisions for the 2005 crop, the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) included questions on Asian soybean rust in the March Agricultural Survey. Each year NASS conducts the March Agricultural Survey in every producing state. Randomly selected farmers across the U.S. are asked what they intend to plant during the upcoming growing season for a number of crops, including soybeans. Due to the discovery of Asian soybean rust in the U.S., farmers in the 31 soybean-producing states were also asked:

  • Have you seen, read, or heard any information about Asian soybean rust? If a farmer responded "yes," they were then asked:
  • Was Asian soybean rust a decision-making factor in your soybean planting intentions for 2005? If a farmer responded "yes," they were asked two additional questions:
  • Did Asian soybean rust result in an increase, decrease, or no change in your soybean planting intentions?
  • By how many acres did your soybean intentions change due to the Asian soybean rust?

Results of the March Agricultural Survey, published in the USDA's Prospective Plantings report, revealed that 89% of soybean farm operators in the 31 soybean-producing states are aware of Asian soybean rust and have seen, read, or heard information about the disease. Awareness of Asian soybean rust is highest among farms with 500-999 intended soybean acres and lowest among farms with 1-99 intended soybean acres.

Only 11% of soybean producers reported that Asian soybean rust was a decision-making factor in their soybean planting intentions for 2005. Farms with 1-99 intended soybean acreage were least likely to consider Asian soybean rust as a factor in determining their planting intentions. When Asian soybean rust was a factor in their planting intentions, 49% of soybean farmers decreased their intended soybean acreage due to the threat of Asian soybean rust, while only 9% increased their intentions.

The remaining 42% of the farmers, though Asian rust factored into their planting decisions, had not changed their intentions as of March 1, 2005. The greatest percnet of soybean farmers that have decreased their planting intentions due to Asian rust was in the Delta States (AR, LA, and MS) and Southeast region (AL, FL, GA, and SC), where 63% decreased their soybean planting intentions.

The complete Prospective Plantings report, including regional level data on intended soybean acreage and the affect of Asian soybean rust on planting intentions, is available at This report also contains 2005 planting intentions for corn, wheat, cotton, and other crops.
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