Deciphering the meaning of some harvest reports can be a lot like trying to decode secret messages. But there’s no question a majority of crop reports feature the phrase, “better than expected.” Either corn and soybean yields will end up closer to five-year average yields; or early season yield expectations were too low. (Or a combination of both.)
When we estimated the national average corn yield at 120.25 bu. per acre and the bean yield at 34.8 bu. per acre, most of the calls to the office were from Members who argued our yield expectations were too high. Those estimates were also made at a time when many crop-watchers (with yield models driven by USDA’s Weekly Crop Condition ratings) were looking for a national corn yield well under 120 bu. per acre and a bean yield below 35 bu. per acre.
Today’s better-than-expected corn and soybean yield results don’t mean yields are good... they’re just not as bad as many feared earlier this year.
Sticking with our estimates —
Our estimates are below USDA’s September estimates of 122.8 bu. per acre for corn and 35.3 bu. per acre for soybeans, but some of the data behind USDA’s estimates (ear populations and ear counts) suggest yield estimates should continue lower.
Conversely, some of the data behind USDA’s estimates also suggests USDA may have shot too low in September. Both ear and pod weights were estimated at very low levels and any improvement in kernel and seed weight will likely result in a supply-side surprise in the Oct. 11 Crop Production Report.
Last year, our August yield estimates were very accurate and the trends we’re hearing from the combine are very similar to the reports we heard last year at this time. “Better-than-expected” might be just good enough to hold yields up to our estimates.