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2013 Outlook: 5 Corn Market Wild Cards

November 19, 2012
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
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Editor's Note: AgWeb.com is taking a look at experts’ projections for a variety of commodities in 2013. See the full list of outlooks.

It will be a relief for many corn farmers to turn the calendar to 2013. One of the toughest production years in history was coupled with an extremely jerky and volatile market.

So, what lies ahead for next year? Jerry Gulke, president of Gulke Group and Top Producer Columnist, and Bob Utterback, president of Utterback Marketing and Farm Journal Economist, share some insight.

#1: Will corn steal or lose acres next year?

In 2012 U.S. farmers planted 96.4 million acres of corn – the largest corn crop since 1937. But extreme drought conditions destroyed the crop’s yield potential. As of its latest Crop Production report, USDA estimates total corn production to be 10.7 billion bushels, down 13% from 2011 and the lowest U.S. corn production since 2006.

Will farmers do an acreage repeat in 2013?

"We talk about planting mixes, but in the Midwest, at least, we like to plant corn," Gulke says. He’s says there’s a possibility of another 1 million acres being planted to corn next year, which would total nearly 100 million indented acres. Areas, such as the Dakotas, received such high corn yields this year, so Gulke believes they will definitely want to plan corn again this year. "You’re not going to bury those corn acres."

Utterback is not so sure farmers will jump on the corn bandwagon again. He believes acreage shifts will happen in certain regions, depending on agronomic issues, such as fall moisture, crop rotations and fertilizer.

"When you look at the total number, I think we will be hard-pressed to reach the same corn acreage numbers as 2012," he says. "The only way you’ll see it is if we have exceptionally good planting conditions in the spring or if the bean market gets hammered."

#2: Could bad weather prevail three years in a row?

In 2011, a wet spring and scorching July trimmed crop yields, and then yields were dramatically hindered in 2012 by prolonged dry and hot conditions. It took both of these big, bad weather events for us to see extremely high prices, Utterback says.

Another excessively dry or wet season in 2013 will either support or crash prices. "The biggest mover of the market for grain is weather," he says. "If we get good weather, the markets are going down, if we get bad weather, the markets will go up."

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