The latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says Illinois farmers are expected to continue planting more corn than soybeans despite the trend changing nationally.
The USDA's prospective plantings estimate said there will likely be 11 million corn acres planted in Illinois this year, about 200,000 fewer acres than last year, The Pantagraph reported . The USDA predicted 10.6 million soybean acres in the state this year, which is about the same as 2017.
The USDA predicted that farmers nationwide will plant 88 million corn acres and 89 million soybean acres this year.
Farmers across the U.S. have been shifting away from corn and toward soybeans since 2012, said Gary Schnitkey, a farm management specialist and University of Illinois professor. The change is likely because of higher returns for soybeans than corn, he said.
"Values summarized from Illinois Farm Business Farm Management indicate that corn was more profitable in most years from 2001 to 2012," he said. "From 2014 onwards, soybeans have been more profitable than corn."
The weather can also impact what farmers plant, said Jenny Mennenga, a certified crop adviser and chairwoman of the Illinois Soybean Association and Outreach Committee.
"If we have a late spring, farmers then tend to plant more soybeans," she said.
But soybean farmers are concerned about how trade issues between the U.S. and China will affect the industry. China recently proposed tariffs on soybeans in retaliation to President Donald Trump's announcement of plans to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
China's proposed tariffs would devastate the industry, according to the American Soybean Association, a lobbying group that represents 21,000 soybean producers. The group said China buys a third of U.S. soybeans.