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RSS By: Kevin Van Trump,

Kevin Van Trump has over 20 years of experience in the grain and livestock industry.

A Few Surprises in Tomorrow's USDA Report?

Jun 11, 2012


Corn and Soybeans, in my opinion, should start to push towards higher ground, unless Fed Chairman Bernanke and crew announce they have found a way to not only print more US dollars, but to somehow also create more rainfall. The bottom-line is its DRY in many parts of the US corn belt as well as in many parts of the Northern Chinese Plains. Talk in the trade is that 10-15% of the Chinese crop could already be under to  moderate-to-severe stress. Here at home we have to be looking for a reduction in the USDA weekly crop ratings this afternoon by at least 2-3% in corn and 1-2% in soybeans.  I know the USDA has thrown out a 166 yield estimate for corn, and rarely has changed their mind in the June report, but I can NO longer play along along with this type of number. Sorry it is simply too high! Don't look for any changes in the soybean yield estimate either, because from our data the USDA hasn't adjusted  soybean yields in the June report for over 15 years.
I mentioned above that I had everyone in the office doing research this week on the difference between the growing conditions and weather back in 2004 and 2009 in comparison to 2012. I include below a few of the headlines the guys pulled from the "National Climatic Data Center" web site.I am sorry about the length of the report today, but I though it was important that you see for yourself the difference of where we were at during May, June and July (of 2004 and 2009) the years the corn yield was over 160 bushels per acre. You will see from the date I included there is a drastic difference... Thanks again to the National Climatic Data Center giving us the ability to easily access the information. We start by taking a look at 2004, then move on to 2009 and wrap up with 2012: 
MAY-JUNE-JULY 2004 - Yield second highest ever at 160.4 bushels per acre. 
  • May 2004  - May 2004 ranked as the 15th warmest May in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 62.8°F (17.1°C), which was 1.7°F (0.9°C) above the long-term mean. May 2004 was above average for precipitation nationally, ranking 24th wettest.
  • May 2004 - March-May was near average for precipitation, ranking 54th wettest in the last 110 years.
  • May 2004 – The June 2003-May 2004 (12 month period) precipitation total was near average for June-May, ranking 38th wettest for the last 12 months based on a record of 109 such periods.
  • June 2004 - June temperatures were near average for the nation as a whole, with cooler than average temperatures in the middle of the nation and in the Northeast.
  • June 2004 - June 2004 ranked as the 42nd coldest June in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 68.8°F (20.4°C), which was 0.5°F (0.3°C) below the long-term mean.
  • June 2004 - June was much above average for precipitation nationally, ranking 7th wettest.  In fact April-June was above average for precipitation, ranking 15th wettest in the last 110 years.
  • June 2004 - June was record wet for Texas and much wetter than average for 7 other states including Louisiana and Mississippi, which had their 3rd and 2nd wettest Junes on record, respectively. 
  • July 2004 - July temperatures were cooler than average for the nation as a whole, with cooler than average temperatures in the middle of the nation and in the Northeast, while warmer than average conditions prevailed in the West.
  • July 2004 - July ranked as the 29th coldest July in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 73.6°F (23.1°C), which was 0.7°F (0.4°C) below the long-term mean.
  • July 2004 - was near average for precipitation nationally, ranking 39th wettest.
  • July 2004 - May-July was much above average for precipitation, ranking 9th wettest in the last 110 years.
  • July 2004 - Precipitation was above average for August 2003-July 2004, ranking 35th wettest for the last 12 months based on a record of 109 such periods.
  • July 2004 - Nationally, the contiguous U.S. was wetter than normal due to heavy rains that fell across the southern and central Plains into the Northeast.


*To say the least the May, June, July time period in 2004 seemed to have cooler temps with good rainfall.  
MAY-JUNE-JULY 2009 - Final yield the highest ever at 164.7 bushels per acre 
  • May 2009 - This was the 22nd wettest May in the 1895-2009 record. An average of 3.22 inches (82 mm) fell across the contiguous U.S. this month, which is 0.35 inch (9 mm) above average.
  • May 2009 - The Southeast region experienced its second wettest May in 115-years of record-keeping. For the contiguous United States as a whole, precipitation was above normal. Both Florida (9.86 inches) and Arkansas (10.91 inches) experienced their all-time wettest May. The last time Florida saw a record wet May was in 1976 when 9.15 inches of precipitation fell. Arkansas experienced its last record wet May in 1930 when 10.07 inches of precipitation fell.
  • May 2009 - Spring (March-May) 2009 ended with the contiguous U.S. averaging 52.7°F which is 0.9°F above normal. The contiguous U.S. was also 0.64 inch above normal in terms of precipitation, which was the 24th wettest spring on record. Based on 115 previous spring years, 2009 was Georgia's second wettest.
  • May 2009 - While the vast majority of the High Plains Region was dry, western Colorado, and small portions of Kansas, Nebraska, and North Dakota received above normal precipitation.
  • May 2009 - A wet April followed by a wet May across the central Midwest led to significant planting delays across much of the Midwest. At the beginning of May only Minnesota and Iowa were ahead of schedule, with the remaining states significantly behind. As of May 3rd, only five percent of the corn was planted both in Illinois and Indiana, compared to a five-year average of 66 percent and 47 percent, respectively. Conditions improved and planting increased about the middle of the month, with the biggest surge during the week ending May 24. This was a sunny, dry, and warm week, and corn planting jumped to 62 percent complete in Illinois and 55 percent complete in Indiana. By the end of the month planting was complete in Iowa, and 90 percent to complete in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Missouri. Corn planting was 89 percent complete in Kentucky, 82 percent complete in Illinois, and 78 percent complete in Indiana. Some of the remaining corn acreage may be planted in soybeans due to the lateness of the season. Soybean planting, which typically starts later than corn, was also well behind schedule except in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio.
  • June 2009 - The frequent and heavy rain in the central Midwest continued to frustrate agricultural interests. At the end of June soybean planting was still behind schedule in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri. Soybean planting was nearly complete in Iowa.
  • June 2009  - Saw a return of active weather across the High Plains Region. A large swath of the Region extending through Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska received over 200 percent of normal precipitation and many locations ranked in the top 10 wettest Junes on record. Interestingly, according to the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, SD, there were an unusually high number of days with measurable precipitation at several locations. This June, Sioux Falls, SD and Sioux City, SD both had 16 days with measurable precipitation and Huron, SD had 15 days with measurable precipitation. Each city tied the record for the most number of days with measurable precipitation for June. Crop damage was reported in many locations due to flooding and hail. Wheat was especially hit hard as it was near harvest in many areas and some fields were complete losses. Other crops affected include, but are not limited to, alfalfa, corn, dry beans, and sugar beets.
  • July 2009 - For the contiguous United States the average July temperature of 73.5°F was 0.8°F below the 20th century average and ranked as the 27th coolest July on record, based on preliminary data.
  • July 2009 - An abnormally strong and persistent upper-level pattern during the month helped produce a large number of record low temperatures east of the Rockies, while warmth was focused west of the Rockies.
  • July 2009 - Four of the seven states that make up the Central U.S. (Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and West Virginia) experienced their coolest ever July in 115 years of records. The region's three remaining states of Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee recorded either their second or third coolest July in history. Pennsylvania also experienced a record cool July, while Wisconsin and Michigan each had its second coolest on record.
  • July 2009 - This was the 40th wettest July in the 1895—2009 record. Precipitation across the contiguous U.S. averaged 2.90 inches (74 mm), which is 0.14 inch (4 mm) above the 1901-2000 average.
  • July 2009 - About 19 percent of the contiguous United States had moderate-to-extremely wet conditions at the end of July, according to the Palmer Index (a well-known index that measures both drought and wet spell intensity).
  • July 2009 - Temperatures were cool across the Midwest in July. Departures ranged from 2°F (1°C) below normal in eastern Ohio to as much as 6°F (3°C) below normal in eastern Iowa. Most of the Midwest remained below normal throughout July with only occasional excursions above normal. For the entire Midwest in July, only one record high temperature was recorded along with 18 record high minimum temperatures. On the other hand, there were more than 400 record low temperatures and more than 1300 record low maximum temperatures during the month. Two periods were particularly cool, July 1-9 and July 17-23. During the former period, 23 record low temperatures and 370 record low maximum temperatures were set or tied. In the latter period, 337 record low temperatures and 942 record low maximum temperatures were set or tied. There was also a drastic reduction in the number of days reaching 90°F (32°C) across the Midwest.
  • July 2009 - Preliminary numbers show July 2009 as the coolest on record for the Midwest. Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa also recorded the coolest July on record. Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Kentucky were the second coolest, while Minnesota was the third coolest and Missouri was the fourth coolest.
  • July 2009 - Numerous stations recorded their coolest average July this year. Stations that set July records include International Falls, MN, Madison, WI, Grand Rapids, MI, Flint, MI, Saginaw, MI, Benton Harbor, MI, Dubuque, IA, Cedar Rapids, IA, Rockford, IL, Peoria, IL, Lincoln, IL, South Bend, IN, Fort Wayne, IN, Lima, OH, Cincinnati, OH, Jackson, KY, and Frankfort, KY. The stations broke previous monthly records by up to nearly 4°F (2°C).
  • July 2009 - The cool temperatures combined with timely precipitation in Nebraska to produce one of the best wheat crops on record. According to the USDA the average yield has been 48 bushels an acre which is nearly 10 bushels an acre more than usual. Unfortunately, in other parts of the region, there are some concerns about whether or not crops will reach maturity before freezing in the fall.
  • July 2009 - The big precipitation story this month comes from Wyoming where, for the first time in nine years, 100% of the state is free of drought or abnormally dry conditions.
  • July 2009 - With the exception of southern Texas, southeast Mississippi and north central Oklahoma, the bulk of the Southern Region received near or above normal precipitation totals for the month. Much of the Southern Region, however; did accumulate rainfall totals that were well above the monthly expected values. In central Texas, rainfall totals ranged between 200 and 300 percent of normal. Similar values were also observed throughout much of central and eastern Arkansas, northwestern Mississippi, and southwestern Tennessee.


*Once again cooler temps and ample rainfall seemed to be the theme in 2009. 

MAY-JUNE 2012 - Yield estimated at 166bpa, the highest yield ever. The problem is I am just NOT seeing the same type of conditions...You be the judge!
  • May 2012 - The national temperature of 57.1 degrees F during spring was 5.2 degrees F above the long-term average, besting the previous warmest spring of 1910 by 2.0 degrees F. This marked the largest temperature departure from average of any season on record for the contiguous United States. The spring of 2012 was the culmination of the warmest March, third warmest April, and second warmest May. This marks the first time that all three months during the spring season ranked among the ten warmest, since records began in 1895.
  • May 2012 - Thirty-one states were record warm for the season, and 11 additional states had spring temperatures ranking among their ten warmest. Only Oregon and Washington had spring temperatures near their average.
  • May 2012 - Spring was drier than average for the contiguous U.S. as a whole, with a national precipitation total of 7.47 inches, 0.24 inch below average.
  • May 2012 - The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI), an index that tracks the highest and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, drought and tropical cyclones across the contiguous U.S., was a record-large 44 percent during the March-May period, over twice the average value. Extremes in warm daytime temperatures (81 percent) and warm nighttime temperatures (72 percent) covered large areas of the nation, contributing to the record high value.
  • May 2012 - The warmer-than-average conditions, which persisted through winter and spring, limited snowfall over a large portion of the country. According to the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the spring snow cover extent across the contiguous U.S. was the third smallest on record.
  • May 2012 - The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during May was 64.3 degrees F, which is 3.3 degrees F above average — the second warmest May on record.
  • May 2012 - The June 2011-May 2012 (12 month period) was the warmest 12-month period of any 12 months on record for the contiguous United States. The nationally-averaged temperature of 56.0 degrees F was 3.2 degrees F above the long-term average, surpassing the previous record, set last month (May 2011-April 2012), by 0.4 degrees F. The 12-month period encapsulated the second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter, and the warmest spring on record. Every state across the contiguous U.S. had warmer than average temperatures for the period, except Washington, which was near normal.  Every state from the Rockies eastward had a top five warmest June-through-May period, and twenty-six states had their warmest such period on record. 
  • May 2012 - Ongoing drought, combined with windy conditions, created ideal wildfire conditions across the Southwest.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of May 29th, 37.4 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing drought conditions.
  • May 2012 - According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the earliest start to the wheat harvest in Kansas since records began in 1952 has occurred this year. By the end of the month, at least 4 percent of the wheat harvest was complete. The earliest harvest prior to this year occurred in 1962 when 1 percent of the crop had been harvested by June 2nd. The dry, hot, and windy weather in Nebraska led to low soil moisture which caused producers to turn on pivots to aid in crop germination. Although rain was a welcome sight to some, the tornadoes and hail that accompanied the storms led to crop damage which will require producers to replant in some areas of Nebraska. This spring (March, April, and May) was a record breaker across the entire High Plains Region. Average temperatures were above normal at all locations in the Region and the largest temperature departures occurred in the east as areas of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas had average temperatures which were over 8.0 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) above normal.
  • May 2012 - The big story this month was the development of extreme drought conditions (D3) in northwestern Colorado due to extremely low precipitation. May 2012 was dry for much of the High Plains Region. A large area encompassing southern Wyoming, western and southern Nebraska, northern and western Kansas, and the east and west sides of Colorado had precipitation totals which were less than 50 percent of normal. In addition, many locations within that area received only 25 percent or less of normal precipitation and ranked in the top 10 driest Mays on record. Goodland, Kansas had its 2nd driest May on record with only 0.45 inches (11 mm) of precipitation, which was 13 percent of normal precipitation (period of record 1895-2012). The 1927 record held at 0.31 inches (8 mm). Snowpack in Colorado and Wyoming continued to decline. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, by the end of the month, the statewide snowpack was just 5 percent of average in Colorado and 22 percent of average in Wyoming.
  • May 2012 - Severe Drought in western Kentucky, extreme southern Illinois, and the boot heel of Missouri, but many other areas saw drying of the topsoil, stressed plants, and dry lawns as concerns increased about the potential for drought to rapidly worsen. 
  • May 2012 - The many days of dry conditions in the Midwest allowed farmers to spend more time in the fields, thus corn and soybean planting was running ahead of normal. With much of the crop in the ground by the end of the month, farmers were hoping for adequate rains to replenish soil moisture and supply needed water to stressed plants going into the hot summer months. 
  • June 2012 – Already 150 new nation wide record high-temps recorded and another 132 tied only one week into June. 


*Sorry, but as you can see it doesn't sound anywhere close to what took place in 2004 and or 2009.  I apologize for NOT doing my homework earlier and considering the historical weather data. We often get too close to the forest to see the trees and unfortunately get caught up in the day-to-day grind.  When you step back though and compare the data it looks like a no-brainer. Either temps need to drastically cool off and the heavens open up with a massive downpour of rain or there is absolutely no way in hell we end up with a 166 bushel per acre yield.  I know there will be those that want to argue the latest greatest "triple stack" traits are going to make a huge difference, but I simply can not buy into that argument any longer considering the evidence presented above.  There is simply a huge difference in the early conditions for the years mentioned above. The two highest yielding years were competing for record cool temps and above normal precipitation.  This time around we are already setting a record for the all-time hottest spring, the all-time hottest 12-month period, and are well below average in precipitation...Net-net we are completely opposite!  

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COMMENTS (3 Comments) - Nashville, TN
Man, I hope your research staff didn't get eye strain, thanks for all the hard work guys!

Remember Jerry Bange's discussion of throwing away last year's yield in determining "trend"? The datapoint had to be thrown out, because it was too low and did not conform to the existing "trend". Think about what that means: if a change in trend were to occur, it would take two years for the USDA to notice. Hey USDA, why not substitute both endpoints with their average? It makes at least as much sense as throwing away data.
10:14 PM Jun 11th
John - ND
I think its even simpler than this, and posted to this effect in another blog on this site back in April. Big corn yields are almost universally driven by cool summer temperatures. Check it out for yourself:​-2010-trendline.png


Create a graph of summertime temperatures for the same period and compare above/below average summer temperatures to below/above trend corn yields. The warmest 5 summers have been 1991, 1995, 2002, 2010, and 2011 - all with well below-trendline yields. The coolest 3 summers have been 1992, 2004, and 2009, all with well above-trendline yields. The only other years that have varied substantially from trendline yields are 1993 (where yields were reduced by severe midwestern flooding) and 1994 (where yields were well above trendline, likely in association with it being the 4th coolest summer during the period over the "Upper Midwest" region, as opposed to the "Ohio Valley" region the link above plots temperatures for).

9:43 PM Jun 11th

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