ANKARA, TURKEY — Soybean acreage is declining in Turkey in favor of more lucrative crops such as cotton, according to a Dec. 6 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Turkey soybean planted area in 2017-18 was 24,000 hectares, down from 30,0000 the prior year. The USDA forecasts a slight increase to 26,000 hectares in 2018-19.

“In the Cukurova region, where 95% of the local soybean crop is planted, soybeans have to compete with wheat, corn and cotton,” the USDA said. “Farmers in the Cukurova region planted more cotton due to attractive returns, which consequently reduced soybean planted area. As a result, crop rotation has become the main reason for soybean planting in the region.”

The USDA noted that while planting area has been shrinking, production has held steady due to better seed quality, which has led to improved yields.

While total imports of soybeans and soy meal have been increasing, the country’s recent economic crisis will slow growth in the poultry sector and adversely affect demand for soy and soy products imports in 2018-19, the USDA said.

“The reduction in crushing in 2018-19 is predicted to drive a 10% decline in imports of soybeans for crushing, while meal imports will increase to compensate,” the USDA said.

Soybean imports are expected to fall to 2.50 million tonnes, compared to 2.77 million tonnes in 2017-18, while soybean meal imports are forecast to increase to 700,000 tonnes from 552,000 tonnes the previous year.