FILE - Soybean farm

(The Center Square) – Nebraska farmers are shifting more acres from wheat to soybeans this spring, and Jason Perdue is one of them.

According to a forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Nebraska farmers will plant about 3% less corn this year than in 2020 but 6% more soybeans.

“Last year, corn had a much higher chance of being at break-even than soybeans and soybeans were less of a chance,” Perdue, of York, told The Center Square. “As we come to this year, soybeans have rallied quite a bit because of export demand. Soybeans are fairly close to corn in potential profit.”

Soybeans also make a good rotation crop for corn to help the soil. Soybeans create their own nitrogen, reducing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer needed for the subsequent corn crop, Perdue said. Rotating crops also helps break disease cycles and helps with weed management. Weeds can become resistant to certain herbicides.

“By planting different crops, you are using different herbicides to help control those weeds, reducing the chance of resistance,” Perdue said.

With all the advantages of crop rotation, it helps farmers to use a crop like soybeans, which is in high demand and has higher prices, Perdue said.

“It’s good to rotate in soybeans anyway,” Perdue said. “This year, you have an opportunity to do that without losing money.”

Corn prices recently reached an eight-year high, with soybeans also hitting a seven-year high.

Perdue, 37, who farms about 1,300 acres on one farm with his father and has a second farm with his wife, planted 90% corn in 2020.

“This year we’re going to be about 60% corn,” he said.

China, which reached a trade agreement with the U.S. in late 2019, has increased its purchases of both corn and soybeans, Perdue said.

“If markets hold at where they are now, it looks like 2021 can be profitable,” Perdue said.