Gulke: Could USDA’s Yield Estimates Actually Be Right?

August 15, 2015 05:00 AM

After this week’s unexpectedly high USDA estimates, Jerry Gulke got on the highway so he could see the crops for himself and drive I-90 through Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota.

What he found surprised him. “I’d say the worst field I’ve seen in the last 700 miles is right at the Wisconsin-Illinois border,” said Gulke, the president of the Gulke Group in Chicago. “But it didn’t take very long to drive out of that.”

In Minnesota and South Dakota, “I didn’t see a bad field,” he admitted. “I have to agree with the government. They’ve got Minnesota corn at 83 percent excellent and Iowa at 87% and by golly, I have not seen this region of the world this good—ever—in my lifetime, and I’ve traveled this for more than 40 years.”

He had a similar reaction to the acres and acres of soybeans he encountered. “This s probably the best looking soybean crop I’ve seen—consistently—across those two states,” Gulke said.

Listen to Jerry Gulke's full comments here:

Will all fields be good enough to compensate for the poor and drowned-out fields in Illinois and Indiana, which this week received federal disaster area designation?

Gulke thinks they could be.

“If you live in Illinois, you kinda like to think that nobody can grow corn like we can, but in my mind’s eye, looking at this and how much land is very good to excellent, including Iowa, and laying that over the parts that are bad in Illinois, from Bloomington east to Indianapolis, into Ohio, probably … it almost looks like we have twice as much very good to excellent (crops). Admittedly, North Dakota is not 200-bushel corn, but South Dakota looks like it is, or higher.”

It makes him wonder if USDA’s much-criticized estimates might be sharper than many traders—and farmers—think right now. “I think the government’s numbers might end prove to be very close,” he said. "We need to see the eastern Corn Belt come in less than expectations."

What do fields look like in your area? Do you think Minnesota and the other good states will make up for the flooded fields in Missouri and other states with historic rainfall in May and June? Let us know in the comments. 

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Spell Check

Northern, LA
8/17/2015 05:09 PM

  How can Gulke be considered an expert and write this mess? Is he wishing he worked for the USDA, no doubt driving by fields and calling them possible record breakers? Lord knows most all farmers need help under the current circumstances we deal with in this country! Why would he even feel the need to write this garbage knowing it could possibly hurt farmers?

Western, NE
8/16/2015 11:52 AM

  The grammar in this article is horrific! Better prices tank early for a while and rise towards the latter half of the marketing year lest we don't get a PLC or ARC payment. Now, when we need a decent farm program, it isn't there to help. Reference prices are way too low, but the marketing year average prices seem always to be slightly higher than the reference price to freeze us out of a payment that will be necessary for a chunk of farmers this year!

Randy Arends
Melvin, IL
8/15/2015 02:36 PM

  I drove from Champaign IL to Chicago, then Elkart IN to Logansport. I have never seen such a large area of awful looking crops. Majority of the fields will not yield 100, with some that may not even get harvested. A coop north of Champaign did a yield survey of 32 fields and got 196 bu. average. That did not include the 10-20% of the fields with severe water damage. That would give field averages in the 170's compared to 200+ last year. This area looks good compared to north and east. I think USDA is way off base this year. It is impossible to guess yields this year till the combimes run.


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