Despite government predictions hinting at soybean acreage only slightly above that planted in 2008, there’s still a lot of elasticity left in landing on the final planted-acreage numbers for the new crop year.

The missing piece of the puzzle here is 7.64 million acres not yet accounted for compared with 2008’s total planted area.

“It’s quite possible that a large share of this 7.64 million acres will be planted to soybeans,” says Rick Stern, United Soybean Board (USB) production chair and a soybean producer from Cream Ridge, NJ.

“The economics favor soybeans – world demand is very strong, and there’s an overall upward trend for soybeans,” adds Stern, who farms 1,250 acres of soybeans, corn, wheat, barley, alfalfa and fresh-market vegetables.

Stern stresses that efforts put forth by USB and soybean checkoff have protected yields from biological and environmental stresses and demonstrate great promise to continue to move U.S. soybean yields upward. “The research coordination program funded by soybean checkoff dollars has given us a big bang for our buck,” he says. “It has allowed scientists to coordinate their work, avoid duplication of efforts and increased the overall efficiency of our researchers.”

Ken Dalenberg, USB director and a soybean/corn producer in Mansfield, IL, also believes that more soybeans will be planted in 2009 than what is formally estimated by USDA. “Corn-soybean price ratios currently favor soybeans,” he says.

Dalenberg credits checkoff dollars spent on soybean research with quantum leaps in the science of growing soybeans. “The advances in mapping the soybean genome have generated more government investment that could open the door to significant developments,” the Illinois soybean farmer says.