Corn & Soybeans Move North – How Will Other Crop Types Hang On To Acres?

Corn and soybeans are continuing to expand their presence from their traditional growing regions into areas previously unseen. A combination of economics and new genetics are driving this march North with a great deal of success. The question now is, how will that success impact other crop types in those new geographies? Should those other crops be worried? What in fact can be done to help those crops hang on to acres? Part of that answer is obvious and part of it is a bit more complex.

Who would of thought that Manitoba would plant 800,000 acres of soybeans ten years ago?

There are the fundamentals of supply and demand at play so part of what’s happening is the market being the market. The complexity of the situation comes from trying to stay away from the tipping point. That involves new investment into the other crops currently being pushed out by the economics of corn and soybeans. That investment has to make sense as well. It also has to be timely enough so that other crops aren’t rushing to play catchup from a point of too much lost ground.

David Morgan is the President of Syngenta Seeds Inc. and the Region Director for North America. They are committed to pouring the same resources that have made corn and soy so dominant into wheat and cereals. I spoke to David about the march of corn and soybeans into new territories and some of the challenges that this presents to other crops.

If you cannot see the embedded video below click here.

 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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6 Comments

Philip Shaw

I think this expansion of corn and soybeans into Western Canada is extremely interesting. It’s surely tied to profitability, but also improved genetics. What’s next, grain corn grown cross the prairies successfully? Don’t be against it.

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@michwoll

Would switch every acre of peas on our farm to soybeans in a heartbeat, if the genetics would fit.

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@michwoll

More agronomics I would say, with disease and lodging being the main issues. Getting tired of picking peas up of the ground, but love what having legumes in the rotation does to the soil. Won’t complain about the profitability either.

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Ron Pidskalny

Improved genetics and some of the newer technologies being incorporated into corn and soybeans have allowed for the expansion of these crops into what were once considered “marginal” areas for the production of these crops in Western Canada. New traits such as Water Use Efficiency (WUE) and Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) in wheat (and other crops) could dramatically change the contribution margin and the gross margin at the farm gate. These changes will will alter farmers’ preferences for specific crops in some geographic areas.

Because many of the more desirable traits and technologies are proprietary to the the private sector, we may also see a shift towards private sector dominance in wheat varieties. This movement from public to private sector dominance in wheat breeding may progress in the same way in which it changed for canola a number of years ago.

How might this affect the future of crops like barley, beans, chickpeas, lentils, oats, peas and sunflowers, among others?

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Shaun Haney

Your question is correct Ron. The public sectors budget cuts to their breeding programs has contributed to the window of opportunity opening to private companies. In the US, Universities are still very involved in the breeding of cereals. It seems that in Canada we have other interests I guess.

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