Crops Barely Miss a Beat Despite Late Planting

August 9, 2013 12:30 AM
Crops Barely Miss a Beat Despite Late Planting

All eyes will be on USDA's new projections for harvested soybean acres in this month's WASDE report.

Analysts will be eagerly awaiting the results of USDA’s summer survey of soybean fields when the department releases its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates on August 12. Due to this year’s late planting, USDA undertook and a new survey to determine a projected figure for harvested soybean acres.

Other projected numbers to watch include total corn production, harvested corn acres, average corn yield, average soybean yield, and exports.

Record Corn Yields in East

"Corn in Indiana and the rest of the eastern Corn Belt looks fantastic," says Chad Hart, agricultural economist with Iowa State University. Some areas in the western Corn Belt, however, continue to struggle from late planting and dry conditions.

"USDA will try to balance the great crop in the eastern Corn Belt with the problems in the western Corn Belt, particularly in Iowa," says Hart.

The average trade estimate for this year’s U.S. corn yield is 157.7 bushels per acre. That compares with USDA’s July estimate of 156.5 bushels per acre.

Allendale, a brokerage firm in McHenry, Illinois, is somewhat less optimistic, forecasting the average U.S. corn yield at 156.2. Record yields in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan will partially offset problems in the West, the firm notes.

Rich Nelson, chief strategist with Allendale, notes that the firm dropped its forecast for average yield in Iowa to 168 bushels per acre, which is 7 percent below the 20-year trend yield of 181 bushels per acre for the state.

"Problems are sporadic throughout Iowa, from Cedar Rapids to the western edge," says Nelson.

Analysts are forecasting a record corn crop of 13.98 billion bushels, with the range of estimates coming in at 13.49 billion to 14.27 billion. USDA’s July estimate called for 13.97 billion bushels.

Improving Exports

Corn and soybeans prices have dropped dramatically since the July WASDE report, which could spur exports.

"I’ll be watching to see whether USDA makes sizable adjustments to corn exports," says Hart. "China has been unusually aggressive in that market lately and remains the major player in the soybean market."

Analysts are expecting a near-record soybean crop of 3.34 billion bushels, with an average yield of 43.5 bushels per acre. Both estimates are smaller than USDA’s July projections of 3.42 billion bushels and an average yield of 44.4 billion bushels. The 2009 soybean crop of 3.359 billion bushels, however, could still be shattered this year.

"We are not ready to take much off the soybean yield," says Nelson. "We are still forecasting trend soybean yields." Allendale’s yield estimate of 43.35 bushels per acre for soybeans again comes in at the lower end of the range and below USDA’s estimate.

The firm, however, did shave 500,000 acres off its forecast for harvested soybean acres to 76.418 million acres due to delayed planting in the eastern Corn Belt as wheat producers struggled to harvest their crop.


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