USDA Ann. Production Summary: Corn Commentary

January 11, 2009 06:00 PM

Pro Farmer Editors

2008 Summary: Corn

Corn: U.S. corn for grain production is estimated at 12.1 billion bushels, up 1 percent from the November forecast but 7 percent lower than last year's record high. The average U.S. grain yield is estimated at 153.9 bushels per acre, up 0.1 bushel from the November forecast and 3.2 bushels above 2007. Yield is the second highest on record, behind 2004, and production is the second largest, behind last year.

Regionally, estimated yields are equal to or higher than last year across the western and central Corn Belt and northern half of the Great Plains, where heavy spring and early summer precipitation and timely rainfall during late summer provided adequate soil moisture supplies. Yields are lower than last year across parts of the Ohio Valley, southern half of the Great Plains, and the Carolinas where drought-like conditions stressed the crop. Yields are also lower in the Delta where excessive moisture and high winds from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike reduced yield potential

Corn planted area, at 86.0 million acres, is down 8 percent from last year. Planted acreage decreased in most States as a result of favorable prices for other crops, high fertilizer prices, and a return to normal crop rotation patterns. Area harvested for grain, at 78.6 million acres, is down 9 percent from 2007. The 2008 corn objective yield data indicate a record high number of ears per acre for the combined 10 objective yield States (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin). Record high ear counts were recorded in all objective yield States, except Kansas and Nebraska.

Corn silage production is estimated at 112 million tons in 2008, up 5 percent from 2007. The U.S. silage yield is estimated at 18.7 tons per acre, up 1.2 tons from last year while area harvested for silage, at 5.97 million acres, is down 2 percent from a year ago. Corn planting was delayed across much of the Corn Belt, northern half of the Great Plains, middle Mississippi Valley, and Ohio Valley as frequent precipitation and cool temperatures during March and April left many fields too soggy and cold for field preparations and planting. On April 13, corn planting had yet to begin in any Corn Belt State, except Missouri which was only 2 percent complete, down 30 points from their 5-year average. Periods of dry, but cool weather across the Corn Belt and central and northern Great Plains during late April and early May promoted a gradual drying of soils and allowed fieldwork to slowly resume. By May 4, corn was 27 percent planted, 32 points behind the 5-year average.

Planting progress was more than 45 points behind normal in the Mississippi Valley and was at least 16 points behind in the northern and central Great Plains, eastern Corn Belt, and Ohio Valley. Planting operations proceeded at a rapid pace during May in many Midwestern locations as producers rushed to complete as much as possible. Despite intermittent rain showers and below normal temperatures, producers made rapid progress and by June 1, corn was 95 percent planted, 3 points behind the average. Producers in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin planted more than three-fourths of their corn crop between May 4 and June 1. The cooler-than-normal spring temperatures and slow planting pace pushed corn emergence behind normal. The crop was 26 percent emerged on May 18, thirty points behind average.

The middle Mississippi Valley was furthest behind, ranging from 39 points behind normal in Iowa to 51 points behind in Missouri. Emergence in the northern and central Great Plains, eastern Corn Belt, and Ohio and Tennessee Valleys was more than 16 points behind. Heavy showers across the Corn Belt, middle Mississippi Valley, and northern half of the Great Plains during early June halted final corn planting efforts and caused lowland and river flooding. Severe flooding continued during the second week of June as heavy rains continued across the Mississippi Valley and eastern Corn Belt. Rains subsided by mid-June: however, excess water continued to strain levees and submerged large areas of farmland across the Mississippi Valley as flood waters drained into the Mississippi River. Several storms moved across the Midwest in late June and early July, maintaining excessively wet conditions in some areas.

However, by mid-July, very warm, mostly dry weather returned, alleviating flooding and promoting corn growth. On July 20, thirty-four percent of the corn acreage was at or beyond the silking stage compared with 60 percent for the 5-year average. Mostly dry conditions during August depleted soil moisture levels and lowered crop condition ratings in the eastern Corn Belt and Ohio Valley. The crop continued to progress behind normal due to the late planting and below normal temperatures early in the season and on August 10, thirty percent of the crop was in the dough stage and beyond, 20 points behind normal. By August 24, twenty-six percent of the corn acreage was in the dent stage and beyond, 21 points behind average. Corn condition continued to decline during September in the eastern Corn Belt and Ohio Valley as dry conditions continued to adversely affect the late developing crop.

Meanwhile, crop condition improved in the northern Great Plains and upper Mississippi Valley as late September rains brought much needed moisture to the regions. On September 21, one-third of the acreage was rated mature and beyond compared with 63 percent for the 5-year average. States in the Mississippi Valley were more than 35 points behind their normal pace for development while States in the central and northern Great Plains were between 24 and 33 points behind. The late developing crop continued to push toward maturity during October under generally cool, wet conditions.

The northern Corn Belt received a light frost in early October while the rest of the Midwest did not experience a widespread freeze until late October. On October 26, ninety-six percent of the acreage was mature and beyond, 3 points behind normal. Corn harvesting proceeded behind the normal pace due to the crop's late maturation and wet conditions during October. Most of the harvest progress during October was made in the eastern Corn Belt and Ohio Valley where periods of warm, dry weather, particularly late in the month, promoted crop maturation and harvesting. Meanwhile, intermittent showers across the northern and western Corn Belt and northern half of the Great Plains continued to hamper harvest progress. By November 2, corn harvesting was 55 percent complete, 24 points behind average. North Dakota was 58 points behind their average pace while Nebraska and South Dakota were 39 and 35 points behind, respectively. States in the Mississippi Valley trailed their average harvest pace between 26 and 36 points.

The first half of November brought cold temperatures and wet conditions to the western half of the Corn Belt and northern Great Plains, severely slowing the already delayed corn harvest. Dry weather returned to these areas by mid-month which helped promote corn harvesting and by November 23, corn harvesting was 89 percent complete, 8 points behind normal. Harvest progress was 40 points behind normal in North Dakota and 22 points behind in South Dakota. Harvest was lagging at least 10 points in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska.

Here's a link to the full report.


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