Production Blog

DTN Soybean Series Offers Tips to Boost Production and Profits

Matt Wilde
By  Matt Wilde , Progressive Farmer Crops Editor
Regardless of the whims of commodity markets, soybean farmers need to stay focused on production costs and agronomic practices to help their bottom line. (DTN photo by Matthew Wilde)

ANKENY, Iowa (DTN) -- Soybean prices are on the rise. If farmers want to cash in for the 2021 growing season, they need to optimize inputs and continue to refine agronomic practices to bolster their bottom line.

After all, farmers know better than anyone that profitable prices aren't a given.

Earlier this month, soybean futures eclipsed the $11 per bushel mark for the first time in more than four years: January soybeans closed at $11.69 3/4 per bushel on Tuesday. Based on the latest USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports, there could be more upside in the market.

USDA lowered soybean ending stocks for 2020-21 to 190 million bushels (mb), a seven-year low. The agency dropped production estimates by 98 mb to 4.17 billion bushels. At the same time, China is buying U.S. soybeans at a feverish pace and domestic demand is as strong as ever.

"The soybean bull market is alive and well," said DTN Senior Analyst Dana Mantini.

Yes, the steady increase in soybean prices since mid-August is cause for celebration. Margins have been razor-thin or nonexistent for most growers for several years as oversupply and trade issues (until recently) caused values to wallow in the $8 to $9 per bushel range.

Part of farming longevity is capturing market highs as best you can to make it through tough times. Selling crops at a profit is only part of the equation. Producing more with less when prices soar is just as important.

DTN recently published a series of stories called: Conquer Your Soybean Costs. The six articles, first published in the November issue of Progressive Farmer, provide advice and solutions to keep expenses in check in preparation for the upcoming growing season. There's also plenty of suggestions to bolster production without breaking the bank.

Here are the stories that can be found on

-- Conquer Your Soybean Costs - 1: Why SCN Variety Resistance Isn't Enough. The soybean industry has fought a long battle against soybean cyst nematodes to curtail yield losses. Read about new tools on the way to fight the billion-dollar pest:

-- Conquer Your Soybean Costs - 2: Tips to Push Soybean Yields. A young farmer from North Carolina benefits from on-farm soybean plots. It helps him identify good-yielding varieties that produce award-winning yields. Get tips to push your yields at:

-- Conquer Your Soybean Costs - 3: Don't Give Early Soybeans the Cold Shoulder. Planting soybeans early has plenty of benefits and challenges. Yields tend to be higher the earlier seeds are planted, but the chance of freeze damage to seedlings is also greater. A late freeze this year that hurt some fields won't discourage farmers from planting early again. Learn more about early seeding pros and cons at:

-- Conquer Your Soybean Costs - 4: Tactics to Outsmart Weed Resistance. Herbicide-resistant weeds reduce yields and even threaten livelihoods of farmers. Farmers can take a holistic approach to fight for clean fields. Here are some of the ways to do that:

-- Conquer Your Soybean Costs - 5: Variable Soybean Seeding Trims Costs. Field variables and planter technology merge to deliver prescriptions that can reduce input costs and bolster the bottom line. Find out more about recommended rates at:…

-- Conquer Your Soybean Costs - 6: Early Soybeans Flourish with In-Furrow Boost. Fertilizer and crop protection products placed in-furrow at planting can help plants get off to a good start and increase the chances of a successful growing season. Learn about the benefits at:…

The USDA raised the national average farm-gate price by 60 cents to $10.40 per bushel in the latest report. That's a good thing. Despite tight domestic supplies, prices could make an about-face if exports slow, and South America produces a monster crop.

"Perhaps the biggest surprise of all in the report was USDA's failure to raise U.S. soybean exports at all," Mantini recently wrote.

The stories can help producers economically boost soybean production and take full advantage of good times while they last.

Matthew Wilde can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @progressivwilde


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