Analysts are all over the board when predicting USDA's upcoming yield estimates, and the discontinuity shows just how difficult this crop is to predict.
Informa Economics released its updated yield forecast Friday morning, dropping its prediction for the Sept. 12 USDA corn production estimates to 10.3 billion bushels, down about 400 million bushels from last month. However, Informa's predictions for the final crop came in at 11 billion bushels.
"They did some confusing things, and they've done this before," said Jerry Gulke, president of the Gulke Group. While Gulke said he doesn't know for certain why Informa's numbers jumped so drastically, he thinks the estimates may be reflecting USDA's planted acres estimates.
About a month ago, USDA said it underestimated the number of planted corn acres by about 3 million. According to Gulke, Informa's predictions show that those acres won't be reflected until the final production numbers come in.
Gulke said that USDA announcing that it underestimated planted acres might serve as a cautionary note.
"It's almost like they're warning us that there's going to be more acres planted, which then kind of opens the door for them to really cut harvested acres," Gulke said.
Gulke said that unlike Informa, most private analysts are projecting corn production numbers below 10 billion bushels, and the variance could cause some chaos in the markets.
"There's a lot of risk out there," Gulke said. "If it's below 10 billion, we could have a very interesting situation.
"It just proves how difficult it is for us to get a handle on this crop, and we may not know until October or even December."
Hear Gulke's full analysis of Informa's numbers, as well as what to look for in the Sept. 12 USDA reports: