Martell: U.S. Bread Wheat Supplies Reduced; Improved Argentina Corn Outlook

November 14, 2011 04:46 AM

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of

United States Bread Wheat Supplies Sharply Reduced

United States bread wheat supplies will be down sharply from production shortfalls in both winter and spring wheat.

United States bread wheat supplies took another hit Nov. 11 with a reduced estimate for North Dakota, the top spring wheat state and No. 2 producer of United States wheat. Wheat production in the state was revised 4.8% lower to 397 million bushels, down 30% on the season. The North Dakota hard red spring wheat harvest was the lowest since 1988. Poor production was the result of very heavy summer rainfall of almost 50% above normal for June through August.

Ordinarily, the Small Grains Report issued Sept. 30 would be the final word on spring wheat production, but severe harvesting delays meant not all North Dakota wheat was accounted for in the September report.

The report showed United States bread wheat supplies — hard red winter plus spring wheat — would shrink to 1.20 billion bushels, which is 25% below last season. Together, hard red winter and spring wheat make up 67% of United States wheat production. Exports of bread wheat in 2011-12 are expected to decline due to a supply shortfall to 975 million bushels, down 24% from 1.289 billion bushels exported last season.

BrdWhtSupplies Martell

Drought-Breaking Rain Improves Argentina Corn Outlook

Buenos Aires, the top corn province in Argentina, has received drought-breaking heavy rainfall that greatly improves the region's production outlook. Conditions were extremely dry August through October with only 40% to 60% of normal rainfall. The 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rainfall in the past week does not completely restore subsoil moisture, but it will provide a big boost to corn growth and development.

USDA predicts Argentina farmers will increase corn plantings to 3.8 million hectares this season, spurred to boost production by high prices. If a normal yield is achieved, production would reach 29 million metric tons (MMT), setting a new record.

Last year a record corn harvest was anticipated from high plantings, but severe drought from La Nina shrank production to only 22.5 MMT. If another strong La Nina emerges in 2011-12, corn production may again fall short of expectations, perhaps 5 MMT lower than normal.

Buenos Aires Heavy Rainfall Martell

USDA Soybean Production Estimate Seems High

The USDA national soybean production estimate of 3.046 billion bushels given in November seems high in light of very dry late-summer conditions in Illinois and Minnesota, key soybean states that together account for 23% of national soybean production. The Illinois soybean yield assigned by USDA was only 3.7% below trend, and Minnesota was 5.7% below trend. With severe drought, yields would be worse down 8% to 10% below trend.

"Trend" is the yield occurring with normal weather. The August pod-filling conditions were much drier than normal in Illinois and Minnesota. I expect worse yields due to the severe August drought.

Agronomists claim heavy rainfall produces the highest yields when soybeans are filling pods. Adequate moisture during the seed-filling period "may completely overcome the effects of moisture stress during flowering". During an experiment at Urbana, Illinois "one inch of rain in excess of normal for eight days during the seed-filling state increased yields by at least 1.5 bushels per acre" (Modern Soybean Production, Walter Scott and Samuel Aldrich).

Yield estimates are apt to move lower in the next USDA soybean report.

drgtlatefall Martell

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