WEATHER PATTERN SLOWLY CHANGING... Meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com says while "emerging" weather patterns are developing that have eased stress on crops, they are coming too late to have a significant impact.
"I've been heavily looking at 1988 because the weather has been nearly identical. We saw a break from the hot, dry weather pattern in late July both years, and rainfall improved. In 1988, August was below-normal for rainfall and it didn't make much difference in crop ratings and yields," says Martell. "I think we're headed toward El Nino, but that doesn't mean it's wet every week -- it's an emerging pattern and it takes time to change the overall weather pattern."
Martell explains some areas of the Corn Belt have seen much-needed rains, but they have been scattered, with cooler Canadian air masses allowing for milder temps. "Until the fat ridge that extends from the southwest to the Mississippi Delta is gone, the Midwest will not benefit from widespread showers." Look for more from Martell in this week's Pro Farmer newsletter.
CONSULTANT LOWERS CORN YIELD, AGAIN... Crop consultant Dr. Michael Cordonnier trimmed another 2 bu. per acre off his corn yield estimate, lowering it to 123 bu. per acre for a crop of 10.21 billion bushels. Last week USDA projected a 123.4-bu-per-acre yield and the crop at 10.779 billion bu. on 87.4 million harvested acres.
Dr. Cordonnier says USDA's harvested acreage estimate is too high, as it is only slightly below the five-year average. "Given the amount of extra corn needed for silage this year and the very poor condition of the crop, I feel they have overestimated the corn harvested acreage," he says.
"I think USDA has overestimated the eventual U.S. corn yield, but if they lower the final corn harvested acreage by removing the lowest yielding acres from the calculation, it tends to support the yields on the remaining acres," says Dr. Cordonnier. "Even with the potential for reduced corn harvested acreage, I still maintain a slight negative bias on the U.S. Corn crop."
Dr. Cordonnier says there is a high probability the final corn yield will end up in the low 120s. He left his minimum yield estimate at 110 bu. per acre, but says he believes there is only a small probability the yield will end up that low.
CONSULTANT TRIMS SOYBEAN YIELD ESTIMATE... Dr. Cordonnier lowered his soybean yield estimate by 2 bu. per acre to 36.0 bu. Per acre for a crop of 2.63 billion bushels. Last week USDA projected a 36.1-bu.-per-acre yield and production at 2.692 billion bu. On 74.6 million harvested acres.
Reacting to USDA's latest estimate, Dr. Cordonnier says, "One of the differences between our estimates is the harvested acreage... My soybean yield was higher than USDA in part because I eliminated more of the lowest yielding acres, which tended to support the overall yield."
"Where the recent rains have been the heaviest, the soybean crop has definitely been helped and the areas helped the most include the eastern and northern Corn Belt," says Dr. Cordonnier. "In the central and western Corn Belt, the rains have not been as good and the temperatures have been hotter. Most of the severe heat has been pushed back to the west, which is good, but the lack of moisture is still the main problem for the soybeans -- especially in the central and western Corn Belt."
Dr. Cordonnier says he maintains a slightly negative bias for the soybean crop, but isn't as negative as with corn. He left his minimum yield estimate at 33. bu. per acre but believes there is only a small probability it will drop to that level. "I think there is a high probability that the eventual soybean yield will be between 35 bu. and 36 bu. per acre." he says.
WASSERMAN SIZES UP ELECTIONS... David Wasserman, house editor of The Cook Political Report, told a Minnesota Ag Leadership meeting to watch one key state in determining the presidential election: Virginia. "As Virginia goes, so goes the election," he says, adding Constitution Party presidential candidate Virgil Goode could be a spoiler in a few districts and if so, help Obama win the state.
President Obama is focusing on attacking Mitt Romney in key swing states, Wasserman notes, stressing that "the average voter does not know Romney" other than that he's a business man and a Mormon. "The first rule of politics is to define yourself before someone else does it for you," Wasserman says.
Romney picking Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate was "a high-risk pick," Wasserman says, continuing "maybe it was not that good of a pick relative to the critical senior vote." He says he agrees with what someone told him recently about the Romeny-Ryan ticket being "The PowerPoint Ticket" because they are a data-driven, metric-focused team." As for whether Romney can now win the state of Wisconsin, Wasserman says "It's a stretch."
Wasserman lists the following as key presidential swing states: Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa and Pennsylvania. For perspective on Congressional races click here.