The USDA yield numbers frustrated many, many producers who believe the report is out of touch. Is it? Our perspective from working with producers throughout the country is a bit different. Western Corn Belt farmers would tell you they had unbelievably big yields and that they’re not shocked by the numbers. If you’re in the Dakotas , Illinois, Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots, it’s a different story. We have customers with 300-plus acres of corn still in the field. One producer I spoke with just a few days ago said he thought the ground was frozen enough so he tried to get his corn out and instead quickly buried his combine.
I understand your frustration at having numbers reported that you feel don’t reflect reality and harm the price you receive for your hard work. Yes, there are bad test weights and crop corn still in the fields, and we may lose corn through spoilage and lower test weights. This will not materially change the supply and demand balance, and even if it does the USDA has a history of not recognizing these things for years afterward.
What can a producer do about numbers that don’t seem to make sense? Look at the big picture and not just at what’s happening out the kitchen window—focusing on only your local area can set you up for false expectations. Rather than focus on report numbers, pay attention to overall trends. Take advantage of what the market offers and the opportunities it presents—there are opportunities, especially in volatile markets.
Marketing isn’t simply a matter of what one sees, or expects to see, or doesn’t expect to see. Great marketing prepares you for whatever lurks over the horizon. Great marketing is being prepared for whatever the market does. It’s not about predicting the crop size or trying to outguess a USDA report. It’s about relying on strategy, not outlook.