Virginia farmers may plant fewer soybeans this coming season

If preliminary numbers are any indication, the 2015 season could be a bit of a mixed bag for Virginia’s agricultural corn, soybean, wheat and hay producers.

The UDSA’s National Agriculture Statistic Service recently released the Prospective Plantings Report for the upcoming season.

Herman Ellison, director of the service’s Virginia field office, said the report represents what farmers “think they are going to plant … nothing’s in the ground yet.”

In this year’s report, Virginia farmers are anticipating planting the same amount of corn — 500,000 acres — as they did last year.

These numbers are in contrast to the 2 percent drop reported nationwide. It marks the second year in a row that expected corn acres will have dropped.

“The price has something to do with it,” Ellison said, noting that the nitrogen used in fertilizer for the crop growth is expensive. “There’s a lot of factors there that would cause the farmers not to plant it.”

The report also notes that soybean plantings are expected to reach record levels nationwide, with a 1 percent increase from 2014 data.

Virginia, on the other hand, is expected to see a slight dip in terms of planted acres. Compared to the 660,000 acres planted in 2014, Virginia farmers are reporting 650,000 for 2015.

“What does that say for right now, for Virginia? I can’t really put my arms around that,” Ellison said.

State farmers have are also expecting 1.2 million acres of hay harvested — or, as Ellison noted, what farmers “expect to cut” — for the season.

That number is a slight uptick from the 1.17 million in 2013, but lower than the 1.24 million acres from 2013.

“It sounds like … the weather factors that we had this winter caused the farmers to feed more of their crop than they expected,” Ellison explained.

One commodity that has been on the decline for Virginia is wheat. According to the latest estimates, farmers are intending to plant 260,000 acres of wheat. That’s down from the 290,000 in 2014 and 330,000 in 2013.

With the next planting survey slated for June, Ellison said, “We’ll have another story to tell as to what actually went in the ground.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com