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Is the Corn Crop Beyond Recovery?

July 14, 2012
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
7 9 12 IN ears of corn
An Evansville, Ind., planted this corn March 26. "We've had no significant rain since the first week of May. It has never been this dry this early."  

Many farmers across the Midwest are facing bleak corn yields. Market expert Jerry Gulke is one of them.

 

This year, it’s been hard to find farmers who are optimistic about this year’s corn crop. Read AgWeb Crop Comments, and you’ll read how corn hasn’t pollinated and yield are dropping as quick as temperatures are rising.


On Wednesday, USDA analysts chopped the projected corn yield to 146 bu./acre, down 20 bu. from earlier projections.

"USDA surprised even me," says Jerry Gulke, president of the Gulke Group. "I thought we would be looking at somewhere around 150 bu./acre, but they took an ax to it and dropped it 20 bushels per acre."

Weather, of course, is the driving factor behind the low yield expectations.

In the Corn Belt and Midwest, extremely dry conditions and near- to above-normal temperatures are maintaining severe stress on reproductive summer crops, according to USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility.

During the weekend and early next week, heat will persist on the Plains and intensify across much of the East and Midwest. Several days of 100-degree heat can be expected on the central Plains, and triple-digit readings may briefly return to the upper Midwest. During the next 5 days, little or no rain can be expected on the Plains and across the driest areas of the southern and eastern Corn Belt.

Gulke says the stressful weather has been causing crop condition trend to fall. "We aren’t to 1988 levels for crop conditions yet, but we’re headed that way. I’ve been watching my crop deteriorate from what I thought was a record crop four weeks ago, down to 40 bu./acre or zero."

The state of the corn crop is astonishing, Gulke says. Crops look good from the road, but upon further inspection the ears have little yield potential. "We’re not seeing a 10% reduction, it’s more likely 40% to 50% reduction in some places."

Gulke says there are some people he trusts that are expecting around 130 bu./acre. "You plug that into the supply and demand equation, and that’s not just a problem – it’s a catastrophic event for our end users, livestock, ethanol and exports."

Drought Destroys Demand

In addition to lowering corn yield expectations, USDA also lowered demand expectations. "They had to lower demand, and I doubt demand will get better under these circumstances," Gulke says. "This is a forewarning to livestock producers – don’t plan on expanding."

Gulke says his fear is that the U.S. will liquidate cow herds and sow inventory to a point that permanently disables demand. "So when we do have a crop, we won’t have demand to sustain it. That’s a pretty bleak outlook."

This situation, Gulke says is a risk manager’s nightmare. "I may have the worst crop of my lifetime, and it all changed in a matter of four weeks. It’s hard to react that fast. Earlier this year we all knew we were going to $4.50. But, when things change you have to change your attitude."

 

Listen to Gulke’s full audio analysis:

 
For More Information
How do your crops look? Submit your report to AgWeb Crop Comments.

Visit AgWeb’s Market Center.

Check your local forecast with AgWeb’s Pinpoint Weather.
 


 

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COMMENTS (5 Comments)

flipped56 - Sioux Falls, SD
There is a good amount of truth to what Senior PA says. Take note of this:
JEREMIAH 10:23 "I well know, oh Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step."

Just when the experts think they have it all figured out things change and those who listened to experts are in trouble. A lot of those who may have looked down on those who saved for troubled years are now looking up at those very same folks. Folks, the old adage or proverb you might say still holds true, "What goes around, comes around." Do not underestimate the wisdom of age and experience. History does repeat itself.
10:06 PM Jul 17th
 
teakettleking - sumner, IL
I trust Jerry Gulke a whole lot more than a book of ancient Jewish fairy tales!
8:58 PM Jul 16th
 
Hopingtofarm - CT
Nicely said Senior! Small local farms is the only way to feed and save this nation. Farmers are the best independent thinkers out there. Too many goverment, and market experts are doing the thinking for us and putting farmers in a tight spot because of it.
3:51 PM Jul 15th
 
Hopingtofarm - CT
Nicely said Senior! Small local farms is the only way to feed and save this nation. Farmers are the best independent thinkers out there. Too many goverment, and market experts are doing the thinking for us and putting farmers in a tight spot because of it.
3:51 PM Jul 15th
 
Senior PA Dairy Farmer - PA
Our "end" users? Duh!!! Get real! Gulke would do well to change more than his "attitude." What is "astonishing" is the hubris of hanger-on "middlemen" like Gulke who seem to forget that this is still God's world, regardless of man-made business "market" conditions, and He expects us to remember that greed and stupidity will not be rewarded even here on earth. Ethanol and "free trade" grain export policies that have become part and parcel of the new "business" model that drives traditional domestic grain users like livestock feeders into financial insolvency and ruin defy common sense, and we're not talking about "expansion," but rather just doing our job feeding the livestock we already have. Our own sovereign nation is now stuck in this dangerous game, the new era rules defying common sense and the players demonstrating not even a remote memory of history that has always written bad ends for nations that forget the story of Joseph in Egypt. I guess God has decided that the US and its materialistic grain policy wonks needed to have some cold water splashed on their feverish financial faces, flushed as they have become with the selling off of our entire grain reserves to the internal combustion engine and communist China! I am amazed by the stupidity and arrogance of such shortsightedness! Mr. Gulke would be well advised to spend a lot more time reading the Bible and less time pouring over his foolish grain projection models! So, yes, do you want to burn it, sell it to communists, or eat it? Just ask our American consumers, and see what they say. The "market" be damned!
10:45 AM Jul 15th
 



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