In comparison, corn yields were “disappointing last year to a lot of people in Illinois, particularly for those who planted corn after corn, or who had a lot of acres in continuous corn,” he says. “There were a fair number of growers who had their lowest corn yields in 2010 compared to what they’ve had for the last several years.”

With a good many growers feeling disheartened by continuous corn production last year and more than satisfied with their soybean yields, some “might actually be interested in planting more soybeans than corn in 2011, but I don’t foresee a dramatic shift in acres,” says Davis. “If we fell into a weather pattern that delayed planting quite a bit, that might shift a few more acres toward soybeans in 2011, too, but it’s still too early to say what might happen.

“Once corn producers have made their investments in pre-emergence herbicides and nitrogen applications, they’re not going to want to shift to soybeans,” he adds. “So, I don’t see any big shifts one way or the other for 2011 right now.”

Still, farmers do need to plan ahead in case a cold, wet spring weather pattern arises again this year, advises Davis. “When choosing soybean varieties and crop protection products, we’ll need to think about potential problems with soybean seedling diseases, plus white mold and sudden death syndrome (SDS),” he says. “In Illinois, we didn’t have a very bad problem with SDS in 2010 like Iowa did, but that’s not saying it won’t happen here this year.”

Davis advises soybean growers to consult the U of I’s Varietal Information Program for Soybeans (VIPS) website to select varieties for disease resistance. He also recommends farmers pay particular attention to soil conditions prior to planting soybeans in places where disease problems have been present in the past.

Regardless how challenging this spring’s weather and disease pressure may end up, current high prices for corn and soybeans will likely result in “crop insurance coverage at a fairly high level, which will provide a lot of downside protection to growers,” says Schnitkey. “So, for now, there’s not much bad news to report concerning projected incomes from producing either corn or soybeans for 2011 – it all looks pretty good.”

For more detailed information on the projected 2011 costs and returns for corn and soybean production in Illinois, download a U of I pdf