MANHATTAN, KANSAS, U.S. — The probability is 60% that U.S. soybean planted acres will increase to 85.7 million this spring, up 2 million acres from 2014, said Kansas State University’s (KSU) research and extension service in a March 20 report. KSU researchers indicated a probability of 40% that acres planted to soybeans will be about the same as in 2014 — 83.7 million.

The KSU outlook was at odds with the recent U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) projections made at its 2015 Agricultural Outlook Forum last February. At that time, the USDA preliminarily forecast 2015 soybean acreage at 83.5 million acres, about unchanged from the previous year. Also forecast at the forum were 82.6 million harvested acres of soybeans in 2015, a 46 bushel-per-acre yield, a 2016 soybean carryover of 430 million bushels and an average farm price of $9 a bushel in 2015-16, KSU said.

In the university extension service’s 2015-16 scenario, including increased soybean plantings of 2 million acres, forecast harvested acres at 84.7 million, trend-line yields at 45.1 bushels an acre, a 2016 carryover of 458 million bushels and an average cash price of about $9.60 a bushel.

Market observers expected the March 31 release of the USDA’s Prospective Plantings report to help answer the lingering question of whether, because of low prices, farmers plan to switch some corn acres to other more profitable crops, such as soybeans.

“The March 31 USDA Prospective Plantings report is likely to have a major impact on U.S. soybean prices, providing direction as to whether the USDA expectations of no increase in 2015 soybean acres or that of market analysts expecting a 1-million-to-4-million-acre increase is correct,” KSU said.

Futures prices of both corn and soybeans hit temporary lows in mid-March but have since rallied. Nonetheless, prices of both commodities have declined significantly since the beginning of 2015, reflecting a strengthening dollar, and, especially in the case of soybeans, burgeoning world supplies from the advancing South American harvest.