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How Big Can this Corn Crop Get?

November 2, 2013
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
Grain Pile

USDA will finally have the chance to update its 2013 production estimates on Friday. How high will they come in?

There’s a saying that big crops get bigger, and that seems to be the case this year. While USDA was away for a few weeks in October, farmers across the country were hard at work harvesting this fall’s crops.

Even with planting delays and several dry months this summer, yields have came in much higher than expected. "This crop is much bigger to much, much bigger than most people were predicting," says Jerry Gulke, president of the Gulke Group.

Hear Gulke's full audio analysis:


The stage is set for record-breaking crops, of both corn and soybeans. "We planted a lot more acres in a lot more places than we have in the past," he says. Couple that with large yields, and we’re looking at a glut.

So, how big are we talking?

On Friday, Informa Economics raised its average corn yield estimate to 161.2 bu./acre (up from 158.8 bu./acre). That means the total corn production would come in at 14.223 billion bu. USDA’s last estimate (released in September) was 155.3 bu./acre, putting total production at 13.84 billion bu.

For soybeans, Informa estimates the average yield at 43.3 bu./acre (up from its previous estimate of 41.7 bu./acre), with total production pegged at 3.298 billion bu. USDA’s September estimates include an average yield of 41.2 bu./acre and total production of 3.15 billion bu.

Gulke says private estimates are ranging from 161 to 164 bu./acre for corn. "We’re using 162.3 bu./acre," he says. "But, we won’t probably really know the yield until the January reports."

Unfortunately, a huge corn crop means trouble for prices. Record yields, coupled with record acres are a huge task to overcome, Gulke says. "In order to right things now, we have to produce less and use more," he says.

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