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September 2008 Archive for Chip's Chore Time

RSS By: Chip Flory, Pro Farmer

Chore time for me isn't what it used to be when I was growing up on our eastern Iowa farm. In fact... I don't even have horse chores to do any more!

Tough to drive corn yield much lower.

Sep 23, 2008

Chore time for me isn't what it used to be when I was growing up on our eastern Iowa farm, but taking care of two horses in the morning before I head in for work gives me a little time to think about the day ahead. Each morning, stop at this spot to get a feeling for the "tone of the day" - and some attitude about agriculture and the markets.

I was thinking…

... about the weather we've been having lately.

There's no way we can call weather during the 2008 growing season anything close to perfect. So... please... don't think that's what I'm doing. However... after the cool conditions to end August and start September, conditions have been about as perfect as we could expect IN THE WESTERN Corn Belt. I completely understand the rain event that came just ahead of Hurricane Ike and the rain from the hurricane itself was way too much for the eastern Corn Belt... and the wind that blew through wasn't anything anybody wanted.

BUT...

As long as we don't get a frost to end the growing season anytime soon (doesn't seem to be in the forecast), the cool temps stretched out the kernel fill period and weather conditions we had at the end of summer were about as good as they could get. That longer kernel fill period gave the corn crop time it needed to gain weight. Growers that were concerned about shallow kernels and light test weights a month ago are starting to talk much more optimistically about their yield potential.

My "gut" still tells me the national average corn yield will be under 150 bu. per acre -- or at least below last year's 151.1 bu. per acre. Still, I can't throw the numbers together to drive the national average corn yield that low. I'm more than willing to accept the idea of a sub-150 national average corn yield and I'm looking for the evidence to support a yield that low... but I just can't find the evidence right now.

My "gut" also still tells me the bean crop is going to disappoint a lot of growers. However, we're starting to see some beans cut around Iowa and the yield reports we're getting sure haven't disappointed the growers. I can still count the actual yield results I've got on one hand, so it's way too early to start thinking the bean yield is going to be surprisingly good... I'm just saying the VERY early trend is better than I expected.

It's funny how the weather has a way of "averaging out" -- not only over a long multi-year period, but also within a single growing season. Too wet early; too dry in the middle; and too wet again at the end for some -- just about perfect for others. While the length of day starts getting shorter now, even the late-planted beans won't be able to benefit much from improved growing conditions. But, much of the corn is still green. No, it's not a dark green in most areas -- but the crop is still green, still collecting energy and still sending that energy into the kernel. That's why I can't drive my corn yield estimate under 150 bu. per acre. (At least not yet.)

What do you think? Drop me a note...

USDA yield pegs "about right"

Sep 12, 2008

Chore time for me isn't what it used to be when I was growing up on our eastern Iowa farm, but taking care of two horses in the morning before I head in for work gives me a little time to think about the day ahead. Each morning, stop at this spot to get a feeling for the "tone of the day" - and some attitude about agriculture and the markets.

I was thinking…

... about this morning's USDA Crop Report.

Corn: 152.3 bu. per acre, crop of 12.072 billion bushels.

That seems about right. Back on Aug. 22, we estimated the national average corn yield at 153.3 bu. per acre and conditions certainly weren't good enough to build on that. In fact, I'd say conditions were poor enough to take about 1 bu. off the national average yield.

But that doesn't mean the yield is done going down. Since USDA wrapped up the survey for the Sept. 1 estimate, conditions weren't any better than they were in the last couple of weeks of August. In fact, with temps well below normal and slowing development of the crop even more, it's starting to look like last year's yield of 151.1 bu. per acre is starting to come "into play" for this year, too.

On the crop size, the 12.072 billion bu. is about 80 million bu. below our Aug. 22 estimate. But, that assumes USDA's August harvested acreage estimate was right. I'm okay with the acreage estimates in Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, S. Dakota and Nebraska, but I would be surprised to see Illinois acres trimmed some and I still expect a few acres to be cut from Iowa and Missouri harvested acreage estimates.

Soybeans: 40 bu. per acre, crop of 2.934 billion bushels.

Again... that seems about right. Back on Aug. 22, we estimated the national average bean yield at 39.95 bu. per acre... so we were 0.05 bu. too low. On crop size, we were just 4 million bu. too low.

We've already started to trim bushels from the estimate, however, and estimate the yield at 39.63 bu. per acre. That would give us a crop of 2.906 billion bushels. I don't think there's any question the yield estimate will continue to drift lower through the end of the season. For one thing, the Iowa average yield estimate of 47 bu. per acre seems too high... maybe by 3 or even 4 bu. per acre.

But, a lower bean yield doesn't necessarily mean a smaller crop estimate. I wouldn't be surprised to see the harvested acreage estimate for soybeans sneak up a bit... but if that happens the national average bean yield will certainly trend down. Those late-planted beans across the Midwest are still as green as a gourd... and they're running out of time to build seed size.

Let me know what you think... drop me a note with your yield expectations.

 

 
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