URBANA, Ill. — For four years in a row farmers in Illinois, other parts of the nation too, have made more money on soybeans than corn.
The numbers are pretty clear and University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey lays them out in an online [farmdocDaily article](http://farmdocdaily.illinois.edu/2017/10/a-narrowing-gap-on-corn-soybean-crop-revenue.html). He says, on average, soybeans have been more profitable than corn since 2013, “One of the things we’ve seen is that soybean prices, when compared to corn, have been relatively strong since 2013. The ration of soybean to corn prices has been 2.74 since 2013, and it was 2.42 before that. So, we’ve seen soybean prices increase relative to corn prices.”
Farmers have responded to the higher soybean price.
When you look at historic price ratio changes, it is relatively easy to see when demand has pushed one crop over the other. The corn-based ethanol build up, for instance, from 2006 to 2013 has a soybean-to-corn price ratio of 2.42… that means the price of soybeans is 2.42 times greater than the price of corn.
Ethanol plants were being built around the United States at this time, and there was a big need for more bushels of corn. Farmers responded and planted more corn. That need has now leveled off at the same time China has been continually increasing its need for soybeans. Today the soybean-to-corn ratio is 2.72. This ratio continually changes says Schnitkey, “We’ve seen soybean and corn have roughly the same revenue. That happened in the late 1980’s. So, it has happened in the past, and I think we are going to see the soybeans to be at least as profitable as corn for the foreseeable future. This is driven by strong demand for soybean exports. We have this growing demand for exports of soybeans. As long as that demand is there, we will continue to try and pull acres into soybeans.”
Just as an FYI, the long-term soybean-to-corn ratio, 1972 to present, is 2.55.
— Gary Schnitkey, Agricultural Economist – University of Illinois
Todd Gleason, Farm Broadcaster
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