Farmers and agribusiness personnel discussed an expected shortage of soybean seed for the 2008 growing season during recent soybean meetings in central Louisiana.

“This year, the shortage of soybean seed is caused by escalating commodity prices on the world market and the poor seed-growing conditions where seed beans are produced in the United States,” said David Lanclos, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist.

Experts say increases in the prices of soybeans and other feed grains are caused by a worldwide shortage of commodities remaining in storage, the increasing use of the commodities to make biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, increased exports and crop shortages in other countries.

Currently, the prices of soybeans and wheat on the commodity market are twice what they were last year. Soybeans are selling near $12.50 and wheat at $8.50 per bushel. The price of corn remains strong at $5 per bushel.

“With these prices and the seed shortage of proven varieties, farmers will need to adjust their farm plans until planting time,” Lanclos said.

Following discussions about the availability of recommended soybean varieties, Lanclos cautioned growers to seek advice from LSU AgCenter county agents and other consultants when selecting varieties to plant. Farmers should monitor the germination percentage on the label when purchasing seed.

Poor seed germination will cause a reduced stand, which will lead to lower yields.

With the higher prices for soybean and feed grains, industry observers expect farmers to shift more land from cotton to soybeans and feed grains. These commodities can be grown with less expense than cotton.

Although farm commodity prices increased during the past year, so have prices of crop inputs, such as fertilizer, fuel and seed, and other farm expenses.

Soybean acreage is difficult to predict in 2008 due to the seed shortage and farmers changing farm plans. “I plan on planting 500 acres more soybeans on the farm this year and less cotton — if I can get the seed,” said Mike Boone, a Lecompte, La., farmer who produces cotton, soybean and corn.

With prudent management, the ability to get seed and supplies, and good luck, farmers may be able to profit by growing soybeans and feed grains this year, observers say.